Monday, March 20, 2006


WOOHOO!!! *tears of joy* The first 100 Ga 48th BCT troops came home in the wee hours of the morning today!!! *bounces around happily* No, none of "my" soldier-babies were in this batch- but I'm ecstatic nonetheless!!! IT'S STARTING! THE HOMECOMING IS GETTING UNDERWAY!!!! wooohoo!!!!!

Families say welcome home to 100 troops

By Associated Press Monday, March 20, 2006, 08:39 AM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FORT STEWART — After nearly a year in Iraq, about 100 citizen-soldiers from the 48th Infantry Brigade of the Georgia National Guard returned home before dawn Monday to cheers and tears from their families.

(See photos)

The returning troops, from units across Georgia, make up the advance party for about 4,300 members of the 48th Brigade due home between mid-April and mid-May. It was the first homecoming for the brigade, and a sign of many more to follow soon.

“It feels good to be back,” said Sgt. 1st Class Don Whitmire, 48, of Bainbridge. “I hate leaving my guys back there and they’re still running combat missions, so they’re working it hard. But they’ll be joining us soon.”

More than 60 family members waved flags and signs and cheered the troops when they walked onto the Fort Stewart parade grounds at 5:50 a.m. After a brief ceremony, the soldiers’ wives, children and parents rushed the field for their reunions.

Many had stayed up all night without sleep.

“We did lay down for two hours, but we’re very excited,” said Sandi Kicklighter of Glennville, who came to meet her husband, Staff Sgt. Mark Kicklighter. “It seems like it’s been longer than a year.”

Sgt. Emory Morris didn’t have to look too hard for his wife, Julie, and children Ashley, 23, and Chuck, 21. He could hear them calling him.
“Emory Morris, where are you at?” Julie Morris shouted through the crowd.
“Right here!” he called back, from about 20 feet away, raising his arms and waving.
Morris, a 56-year-old truck driver from Thomaston, wrapped his family one at a time in a big bear hug, tears streaming down all their faces.

“It’s great. It’s just great,” he said.

His wife agreed: “He looks like he did well over there. It’s great to see him again. He looks like he’s ready to be home.”

The soldiers were greeted by cool, breezy weather just before sunrise, something they’re not used to. Even walking on the grassy field felt different.

“What’s strange is that right now, at this very moment, we’re walking on grass,” said 1st Lt. John Avera, 36, a software designer from Jacksonville, Fla. “One thing we’d say to each other over there is we’re tired of walking on rocks and sand.”

The 48th Brigade deployed to the Middle East in May 2005 after several months of training at Fort Stewart. It is the largest combat unit of the Georgia National Guard to deploy overseas since World War II.


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