Staff Sgt. Robert Chavez, a signal support systems specialist who deployed with the 3631st Signal Company, reunites with his children at the Rio Rancho Readiness Center on Nov. 15, following a 10-month deployment to the Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of Operation Spartan Shield. The unit provided communications support to forces across the region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Iain Jaramillo, 111th Sustainment Brigade/for the Observer.)


RIO RANCHO, N.M. — About 30 soldiers from the 3631st Signal Company reunited with their families at the Rio Rancho Readiness Center after being deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

They spent the last 10 months away from home, performing their duties as communications experts, from maintaining signal equipment to providing radio support for the 36th Sustainment Brigade from the Texas National Guard and other forces in the region.

While the unit itself was relatively small, their responsibilities and their expertise were essential in the success of the mission of the 36th S.B. and their subordinate units.

Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Cordova, who deployed as a cable systems installer-maintainer, brought the experience of four previous deployments to the unit.

“Being in a supervisory role was my primary function, just taking care of teams and soldiers,” Cordova said. “They did a lot of sustaining. We would work a lot with our equipment to ensure it was working properly when needed.”

Many of the soldiers had never before deployed or spent so long away from their families.

1st Lt. Elrond Wedel, who commanded the deployed soldiers, had been activated once before to support the state’s COVID-19 response, but had not yet deployed overseas. He left his wife, Sheree, and three daughters, during the deployment.

“I didn’t think we would get to see him for Thanksgiving,” Sheree said. “We just wanted to give him a hug and see him again. It was really hard at first because we knew it would be a long time, but we could communicate through video and we spent a lot of time with family to make the time go by faster.”