Grateful families welcome Albany Guard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Grateful families welcome Albany Guard

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April 28, 2006

Albany - Several Hundred members of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade are now home, after an 18 month deployment to Iraq.

Cities and towns across South Georgia gave the troops a hero's welcome. Several hundred people greeted about 80 troops at the Albany National Guard Headquarters.

Police cars , ambulances, even fire trucks escorted the 48th Brigade into Albany. Along the road, hundreds of people with flags and yellow ribbons.

In a bus and in their own cars, the National Guard troops made a triumphant return from the war in Iraq.

Sgt. Dramoski Franklin got closer to the crowds to enjoy his homecoming. "This is real good, real good."

Captain Andrew McDonald said "To drive through those communities. We must have seen ten thousand people out there. It was unbelievable. I ran out of tears at the end."

South Georgians waved flags as the Guardsmen stepped off the bus and were finally back home. They marched into their Headquarters in formation, as one lady expressing everyone's message. "I'm proud of you. I'm proud to have had the opportunity to serve with you, and it's been my honor."

As they were dismissed, cheers and hugs erupted, causing Captain Andrew McDonald to remark, "Smelling the Georgia air, I can't tell you how good it feels to be home."

With all the joy and happiness, still many Guardsmen remembered the nine members of the 48th Brigade that did not come home. Colonel Steve McCorkle said, "This is an honor to them also. To show that they did not give the ultimate sacrifice for nothing. They gave it for a real good reason."

Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and tears were exchanged as these members of the 48th Brigade return to civilian life, and many knew exactly what they wanted to do. Sgt. Charles Duncan said "I want to go home, sit down on my sofa, and watch TV."

Captain Andrew McDonald said "We been talking about taking a boat trip out on the river. That's probably the first thing I'm looking forward to. And a nice cold beer."

South Georgians welcoming home the men and women of the 48th Brigade-- one they will probably never forget.

The 48th Brigade mobilized December 6, 2004. Their Commander estimates one third of the troops are home now, the rest are expected to return home by Mid- May.

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