Douglas - Another welcome home celebration for the 48th Brigade. This time in Douglas as the Charlie Company, 648th Engineer Battalion returned home after serving in Iraq for a year.
Friends, family members and supporters of the 648th line the street just before the troops pull in to the National Guard Armory in Douglas. "We're very humbled and moved that they volunteered to go and serve our country to protect our freedom," says Georgia Henderson. That's why she and her co-workers are out here today, to say thanks.
A group yells, "Welcome home! Welcome home!"
It's a welcome that doesn't go by unnoticed. "Appreciate your support," yells one soldier.
For 18 months, the 648th traveled, trained and served in Operation Enduring Freedom. It's not something Specialist Jason Troupe wants to repeat. He says, "18 months is a long time to be away from home."
Sadly, some of the troops will never come home. 29-year old Specialist Jerry Ganey Junior, 21-year old Specialist Mathew V. Gibbs and 36-year old Sergeant First Class Charles H. Warren were killed in a car bomb attack in August.
Troupe says, "It was just a very hard time, but we pushed through in their honor, finished our mission and came home." Spc. Joseph Allen says, "They gave the ultimate sacrifice and I'll never ever live a day without thanking them for it."
They're also thankful for the support they've received while away. Sgt. Gerald Ray says, "I think it's awesome we have this kind of support in Coffee County. If feels good to have this much support."
But it feels even better to be back home says, Spc. CaDee Smith, "I'd like to say thank you to all the one that came out and support the troops. It feels good and I know everyone else feels the way I feel."
Glad to be back in the "USA, USA, USA!"
If you weren't able to greet the troops today, you still have a chance. A parade will be held in Douglas June 10th at 11 AM, followed by a meet and greet at the Armory. Later that night, troops and their families will be treated to a Banquet in thanks for their service.