Statesboro Guardsmen Return to Civilian Life - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/15/06

Statesboro Guardsmen Return to Civilian Life

Supporters lined the streets to welcome home the troops. Supporters lined the streets to welcome home the troops.

After a year in Iraq, it's hard to believe a week would feel so long. But that's been the case as men and women of the Georgia National Guard waited at Fort Stewart to return to their hometowns around the state. Over the weekend, we saw hundreds return to Savannah and Springfield.

This morning was Statesboro's turn. From the lights and sirens, it seemed something was wrong in town, but things couldn't have been better.

Crowds gathered on the streets to welcome home local troops of the 48th Brigade. Among the greeters was Jay Reddick. His dad, Brig. Gen. Terrel Reddick, was the Guard's deputy commander before he died of cancer last year.

"He loved his troops like his own family, so this is important for me to do, because they've been fighting for us and for him," Reddick said.

There were flags and cheers, and bands played downtown as the welcome stretched from one end of Statesboro to the other.

"Just to see the families and friends out there supporting us on our way back from Fort Stewart is a great feeling," said 1st Lt. Mariel Potts.

How did Spc. Mark Foreman feel? "Great! Extremely great! Like Tony the Tiger. How many greats do you want?"

"We weren't expecting that kind of turnout on a Monday morning," said Spc. John Price.

"Me and the kids missed him," said Spc. Foreman's wife, Nadine. "He's been gone so long and it's great to have him home."

After a few minutes of hugs and handshakes, it was time for one final formation. Then they were dismissed to back to their normal lives. As Sgt. 1st Class Johny Shaw put it, "I'd rather be Grandpa or Papa or Hey You rather than Sergeant for a while."

Both soldiers and families say they couldn't have gotten through the past 18 months without each other.

This deployment marked the first time in 60 years the Georgia National Guard was mobilized. The final troops of the 48th Brigade, who returned to Fort Stewart last week, should make their way back home to the Atlanta area sometime this week.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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