In Wurzburg, Germany today, the 121st Signal Battalion, the Army’s oldest and most decorated Signal battalion, was inactivated at a ceremony at Leighton Barracks.
In 1898, the121st Signal Battalion began as Alpha and Delta Companies, Signal Corps. Both companies saw service during the Spanish American War and provided emergency communications after the1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 1913 tornado in Omaha. The companies supported the building of the Panama Canal with communications.
The unit was originally constituted on 1 July 1916 in the Regular Army as a Signal Corps Battalion. It was later organized 16 September 1916 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as the 2d Field Battalion, Signal Corps.
Company B organized 27 July 1898 as Company D, Signal Corps; redesignated 5 April 1910 as Field Company D, Signal Corps; redesignated 11 November 1916 as Company B, 2d Field Battalion, Signal Corps
Company C, 2d Field Battalion, Signal Corps, organized 11 May 1917). Charlie Company was the first signal unit to deploy to Europe in World War I, and was joined by the remainder of the battalion in France as part of the “Fighting First” in June1917. Now members of the First Division, they wore the “Big Red One” on their left shoulder.
The battalion was assigned 24 May 1917 to the First Expeditionary Division (redesignated 6 July 1917 as the 1st Division; redesignated 15 May 1942 as the 1st Infantry Division)
The unit was reorganized and redesignated 3 August 1917 as the 2d Field Signal Battalion.
In February 1921, the battalion was reorganized as the 1st Signal Company and was stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Later in the decade, the Company was honored with its own distinctive crest. The crest, still worn by the battalion today, is orange and white, the traditional colors of the Signal Corps. It depicts a French fleur de lis superimposed on a Spanish Castle, symbolizing service in World War I and the Spanish-American War. The unit motto is written in Greek and is translated: “DO WELL THE DUTY, THAT LIES BEFORE YOU”.
The Company communicated through the Normandy invasion, and drove on with the Big Red One through France, Belgium, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. The 1st Signal Company was decorated with seven battle streamers for dedicated service to the 1st Infantry Division and was authorized to wear the Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Award, and French Fourragere.
The Company remained in Germany until 1955, when it returned to the United States with the Big Red One to its new home, Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1957, the 1st Signal Company was redesignated as the 121st Signal Battalion. In 1965, the battalion was called upon to serve in its fourth theater of combat, the Republic of Vietnam. In five years of service, the battalion was awarded eleven battle streamers for the support of several different combat units. The 121st Signal Battalion returned to Fort Riley with the 1st Infantry Division (Mech) in April 1970.
In November 1990 the battalion was once again called to combat, deploying with the Big Red One to defend Saudi Arabia. By December 31, the battalion was fully deployed in Saudi Arabia supporting the Big Red One as it faced the massed forces of Saddam Hussein. The battalion joined the Division as it raced across Iraq in February 1991 to liberate Kuwait. After providing communications support to the military peace talks and refugee support centers, the battalion returned home in May 1991.
On 10 April 1996, following a reflagging ceremony, the battalion was relocated from Fort Riley, Kansas to Kitzingen, Germany replacing 123d Signal Battalion which was relocated to Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The unit deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 1st Infantry Division.