Alpha Company welcomed home in Valdosta - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Alpha Company welcomed home in Valdosta

April 28, 2006

Valdosta - It's a homecoming that couldn't come fast enough.

After a year and a half away from their families, and almost one year in Iraq, members of the 48th Brigade's Alpha Company are back home in Valdosta. "It's wonderful, wonderful, words can't express it enough," said Sgt. Alan McGuffey.

And what a welcome home they got.  Hundreds of people lined Patterson Street to show their support, and businesses all over town hung banners and yellow ribbons. "I really do appreciate everything they do for us," said Jessica Culpepper.

Husbands are reunited with their wives, and fathers with their children.  It's one of the happiest days most of these families have seen, but the homecoming isn't so sweet for everyone. The company lost Specialist Ronnie Shelley when a roadside bomb exploded near his humvee last summer. His family struggled to make it through the homecoming today. "We know he's want us to be strong and be here for them," said Connie Beall, Shelley's Sister.

To honor the guys who didn't make it home, Shelley's family and the other soldiers say Americans should put political differences aside, and support everyone who's still in Iraq. "No matter what your political party is, still support the soldiers, our American flag stands for freedom and freedom doesn't come free," said Sgt. Kevin Roberts.

"We've made a big difference over there, you don't see it on the news because a lot of the bad stuff is shown, but we made a lot of progress, helped a lot of people," said McGuffey.

Progress that this community won't forget, and will always be grateful for.

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