Eight Anaconda Soldiers reap $51K in Bonuses
By Pfc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment
LSA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Eight 29th Signal Battalion Soldiers took advantage of the benefits of reenlisting in combat, raised their right hands and recited the oath of enlistment in a ceremony at Sustainer Theater June 24.
Overall, they chose a number of options and reenlisted for many different reasons. Besides staying Army, the Soldiers accumulated a total of $51,487 in reenlistment bonus money. All but three of the Soldiers opted to stay with the 29th Sig. Bn.
"Families back home get to keep their homes, their jobs, and most of all, have predictability for the next few years knowing they will not be touched by the U.S. Army," said Sgt. 1st Class Tommy Carson, reenlistment and retention NCO with the battalion.
Sgt. Francisco Arriola of Company B opted for a current station stabilization reenlistment to remain at Fort Lewis, Wash., where the battalion is based.
"I get to buy a house and stay in one spot for while," Arriola said. "When my third daughter was born in December. I said no way am I going to get out. Healthcare costs too much."
Among the reenlistees were a group of four best friends, who decided upon arriving at LSA Anaconda that they would reenlist together. Arriola, Staff Sgt. Omero Morales, Staff Sgt. Robert Leon-Guerrero and Sgt. Gerald Reyes all plan to be career Soldiers.
"I knew I'd make this a career when I came in in '91," said Leon-Guerrero, a 12-year Army veteran with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, who took the indefinite reenlistment option. "I want to continue this as my career. I enjoy the Army. I enjoy what I do. It's an adventure everyday. No two days are the same, and I'm following in my father's footsteps."
One of the eight Soldiers took the overseas assignment reenlistment option.
"I'm a career Soldier. This is what I've always wanted to do," said Morales, who in also in HHC and will PCS to Europe upon redeployment.
The battalion made the day doubly special for Reyes of HHC.
"I decided a long time ago that I would reenlist. I just held off on it until the right time. The right time was today, my birthday," Reyes said.
The battalion surprised Reyes after the recitation of the oath when they broke into a 29th Sig. Bn. rendition of "Happy Birthday."
Spc. Robin Stewart of HHC opted for the CONUS station of choice reenlistment so that she could join her husband at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Spc. Joel Leuty and Sgt. Urbano Paet of Company A opted to remain at Fort Lewis.
These Soldiers were motivated to reenlist because of their love of their jobs, their dedication to the U.S. Army and the first impression of their previous and current units.
"Soldiers are not numbers or statistics. They are volunteers that serve their country. They are America's sons and daughters who have earned the privilege of reenlistment through their demonstrated performance," said Carson. "Retention does not begin when a Soldier enters their reenlistment window. It begins the day they arrive in their unit. It's based on the way they are welcomed, made to feel they are an important part of something special and are given equal opportunity for education, promotions, training and awards. If leaders are actively and enthusiastically involved, then Soldiers will want to reenlist."
Lt. Col. D.R. Kestle, 29th Signal Battalion Commander, reenlists 8 of his Soldiers during a ceremony June 24. photo by Pfc. Leah R. Burton