Take it to the Top!

Amongst the jagged peaks of Warrior Country, one stands alone: Hill 754. This, the tallest mountain in the Second Infantry Division's area of operations, is the home of Casey 39er, the Division's fixed-site FM retrans facility. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year soldiers from throughout the Division team up with troops from C Company, 122d Signal Battalion to keep 2ID talking. Their teamwork, shared commitment to providing world-class communications support, and technical competence link together units all along the Uijongbu-Tongduchon corridor and beyond, allowing commanders, leaders and soldiers to communicate via FM.


 
CPT Michael Shannon, C/122 Commander

  Soldiers assigned to Casey 39er affectionately call the narrow, winding road to the top of the Hill the "Time Warp." Hill 754 was originally occupied by the 127th Signal Battalion, 7th Infantry Division as a retrans facility for Very High Frequency (VHF) and Frequency Modulation (FM) radio communications in the early 1960s. By June of 1967 the Hill's main bunker was built, and soon thereafter C Company, 122d Signal Battalion took over operation of Hill 754. Today, a trip up the Time Warp will transport you both backwards and forwards in time. While the aging main bunker and its surrounding Quonset huts still house the soldiers of Casey 39er, inside the bunker's radio room is the most modern of FM radio equipment, manned by 31Us trained to keep 2ID talking. A tour on Casey 39er is definitely a hardship assignment. During the winter soldiers rely upon helicopters to transport their food and water to the top of the impassable Hill, while the facility's remote location means that soldiers can only come off of the small compound a couple of times a month.


 

They're off!

On 20 April 2001, C Company invited the soldiers of the 122d Signal Battalion and their ROK allies in the 107th Signal Battalion to lace up their boots, ruck up, and race up the Time Warp to the top of Warrior Country. The first annual Casey 39er Challenge offered over 200 Signal soldiers the chance to test their intestinal fortitude. Upon arriving at the registration point, soldiers weighed in their ruck sacks, hydrated, and shuffled about in anticipation of the unknown. Most soldiers had never been to the top of the Hill, and had only an inkling of what lay before them. Beginning 5 kilometers from Casey 39er's OE-254 antenna farm, the Casey 39er Challenge course climbed up the steep side of Hill 754, punishing each soldier every step up the way.


 

A view from the top

The pack of soldiers who began the race quickly strung out as the bright sun and the Hill's increasingly steep incline wore down participants. By the time they arrived at the top of the Casey 39er, half-way home, competitors were winded and drenched in sweat. Greeting them there were a breathtaking view of the Tongduchon area and the soldiers of Casey 39er, who were blaring a radio and handing out water, juice, and sports drinks provided by CPT Steve Carlson, 122d Signal Battalion chaplain. Most competitors paused a moment at the top of Warrior Country to take some snap shots, drink, and rest before pounding back down to the finish line.


 

LTC Sussman presents the award for the fastest team to soldiers from the 107th Signal Battalion, Army of the Republic of Korea

 SGT WHO from D Company, 122d Signal Battalion ultimately won the men's division with a time of 1 hour and 20 minutes, driving himself forward ahead of several ROK soldiers. SGT Sara Pacheco, C Company, 122d Signal Battalion beat out all other female soldiers. At the awards ceremony following the race, both received trophies from LTC Lori Sussman, 122d Signal Battalion commander. For LTC Sussman, C Company First Sergeant Sheila Acoff, and all other soldiers who finished the trek, Charlie Company Commander CPT Michael Shannon had specially-minted "Casey 39er Challenge" coins.

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