878th Engineers Arrive in Swainsboro

Tomorrow's holiday took on more meaning for nearly 90 families of Georgia National Guard Soldiers. Early this afternoon, the troops pulled up after a second one-year deployment to Iraq.

WTOC was in Swainsboro for their return today, where families packed the National Guard Armory for what felt like forever, waiting for Company A of the 878th Engineers to come home from Iraq.

"We prayed the whole time for him to get home from over there, and we're praying for him to get here safe from Augusta," said military mother Inez Turner.

For some families, this deployment to Iraq was the second year apart from their soldiers. Finally, the engineers arrived to a hero's welcome.

After a brief ceremony, families could reunite, including Ronnie McCullough, a dad laying first eyes on his youngest child. "I'm just glad to be home to see her," he said.

All were proud of what they called a job well done. "We done a good job, a good job," said Quinton Doyle. "Long hours, but we did a good job."

They and their families say they have even more reason to be thankful this holiday.

"We were wondering if we'd get home by Thanksgiving," said Donletta Watts. "But they pushed and pushed and pushed and we're here. It is a real good feeling."

But all that will take a backseat at least for a while.

"We're not going to see anyone," said Lt. Bo Reeves. "Going to lock all the doors and take the phone off the hook."

Company A included soldiers from Emanuel and Toombs Counties and from the Augusta area, all of them volunteers to go back for this second deployment.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com