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644...ready for war!

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Stone
  • 644 Combat Communications Squadron
On Jan. 4, the dragon of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron roared again. 

Col. Michael Lewis, HQ PACAF/A6 re-activated the unit and Col. Kevin Kersh, 36th Contingency Response Group commander, passed the guidon to Maj. Roger Vrooman signifying his assumption of command.

Major Vrooman comes to us from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. He is no stranger to tactical communications, having been assigned to the 56th Air and Space Communications Squadron and deployed throughout the Pacific Air Forces. Upon his assumption of command, he reiterated his excitement for the opportunity to command the unit as they stand up and stand ready to support the mission.

In 1992, the 4th Combat Communications Group relocated three squadrons from Japan, Korea and the Philippines. A portion of the driving force behind the move was the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The Philippines' contributions arrived muddy and packed with ash. The group downsized, consolidated and was designated the 644th CBCS.

The unit hit the ground running with the arrival of Typhoon Omar in August 1992. Most notably, it was deployed to the Guam International Airport, as the air traffic control tower there was almost a total loss. The 644th CBCS remained in place for eight months, packing up and moving to a hangar for each of the next four typhoons to hit that year.

In 1993, communications equipment started getting smaller and lighter, and new ideas emerged about how to project theater communications capability. As a result, the 644th CBCS was de-activated and the assets distributed throughout the theater. Its presence was short lived, but the unit made its mark here on the island. Because of the outstanding mission success rate and support to the theater, the 644th CBCS was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and was selected as the best communications squadron in PACAF.

The 644th Combat Communications Squadron today is unique among her sister combat communications squadrons in that it is aligned under a contingency response group. This gives it a greater inherent capability to deploy to non-permissive environments.

To form the unit, it seems history repeated itself. PACAF again consolidated tactical communications capability from most of the bases in the theater. A few short months ago the unit was three strong. It is closing in on 50 today, and there will be more than 130 personnel by the end of the year. It remains the only active duty combat communications unit in PACAF and will be asked to provide support for Aerospace Expeditionary Force taskings, disaster response, humanitarian assistance and contingency support. The unit is working hard and moving rapidly toward the initial operational capability in June. 

The 644th CBCS remains a mixed bag of AFSCs with varying experiences brought together toward a common goal -- to provide communications capability anytime, anywhere.

The 644th CBCS will join Red Horse and Commando Warrior at Northwest Field in a few years when their state of the art facilities are complete. 

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