South Georgia soldiers return - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia soldiers return

Specialist Joel Fussell Specialist Joel Fussell
Specialist Deon Wilkerson Specialist Deon Wilkerson

July 17, 2003

Ft. Benning - Thursday evening, approximately 300 soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division came back home. This week thousands of Ft. Benning soldiers have returned safely.

We found familiar faces from southwest Georgia in the crowd. Some of these soldiers you've seen before, on our America's Bravest wall of honor.

In May, Specialist Joel Fussell was one of the first honored on our America's Bravest wall of honor. WALB's Ben Roberts points to Fussell's picture on the wall, "He grew up in Fitzgerald, but his parents live near Willacoochee now."

On Wednesday, the family was at Fort Benning ready to bring him back home. Fussell's eight-year-old daughter, Jennifer, says the first thing she's going to do is hug her daddy.

Jennifer finally sees her daddy in the crowd of camoflauge. Specialist Fussell is a tank mechanic.  Fussell says, "We got lost a couple of times and got shot at all the time."

Twenty-one-year-old Specialist Deon Wilkerson is from Tifton. He talks about his trip to Iraq and says, "Most of the time I was scared. Not knowing what tomorrow would bring, wether I was going to see the next day. "

His mom, Kay Roberts, drove nine hours from Florida to surprise her only son. She says, "I'm proud of them, because they could be doing something else, and they are serving the country." Her daughter from Moultrie, Sharonda Ponder, served in Desert Storm. Ponder says, "It does my heart good to be able to come and support my brother, like when he was a little boy he came to support me coming back in."

These soldiers have been surrounded by support.  Wilkerson adds, "I knew I had my battle buddies on the left and right, I was in good hands and God was on my side." Some of those buddies are from southwest Georgia. 

Ft. Benning will have 3rd Brigade homecomings throughout the weekend.

posted at 6:04PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com