There are lots of soldiers coming home. Not Al, not yet - but soon. I pray that everyone who has their soldier home from the 155 - or who will have them home in a matter of days - has a wonderful reunion and a great Christmas too. Thank God this almost over.
155th BCT soldiers expected the begin coming home on Saturday
JACKSON, Miss. - About 100 soldiers in the 155th Brigade Combat Team are expected back in Mississippi on Saturday after nearly a year in Iraq, National Guard officials said.
The rest of the unit, including almost 3,500 Mississippi soldiers, is expected to arrive in waves through the middle of January. The unit is made up of soldiers from 49 different communities in the state and others from across the country.
"The members of the 155th BCT, not only provided professional combat power to the Multi-National Forces-Iraq, but developed and sustained a high level of stability within their area of responsibility by establishing agricultural cooperatives, building and supplying schools, conducting engineering work on Iraqi infrastructure and providing medical support to the local population," said Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, the adjutant general of Mississippi.
"They were very instrumental in training Iraqi forces to provide their own security for their Army. They are our heroes and we are ecstatic about welcoming them home ahead of schedule," Cross said.
The initial group of soldiers will land at an Air Guard base in Gulfport before loading buses for Camp Shelby, a sprawling, 136,000-acre training base just south of Hattiesburg.
"We strongly encourage the family members not to drive to the Combat Readiness Training Center on the coast but to meet their soldiers at Camp Shelby," said Lt. Col. Doril Sanders, a Camp Shelby spokesman.
Sanders said family members are urged to visit with the soldiers at Camp Shelby before they begin four to five days of demobilization, Sanders said.
The unit - with members from Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Texas, Puerto Rico, Virginia, Missouri, New Jersey, South Carolina, Vermont, Utah, and Arkansas - was attached to the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
The troops spent much of their time battling insurgents and rooting out clandestine weapons stashes in the so-called "Triangle of Death" in the Karbala, Najaf and Babil provinces of Iraq, the military has said.
Fourteen Mississippians in the unit were killed in Iraq, most by roadside bombs.
The majority of the soldiers arriving in the next few days are members of the 114th Field Artillery headquartered in Starkville. The rest of the flights will be mixture of different units.
Once they arrive at Camp Shelby, the troops will turn in their weapons and receive a mandatory briefing before they are allowed to visit with their families.