Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunswick Celebrates Guard Unit's Homecoming; after a Year in Afghanistan, They Were Greeted with Cheers and Thanks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunswick Celebrates Guard Unit's Homecoming; after a Year in Afghanistan, They Were Greeted with Cheers and Thanks

Article excerpt

Byline: TERESA STEPZINSKI

BRUNSWICK - Jalen Battle marched proudly.

The solemn 7-year-old boy matched his mother, Sgt. Chassy Battle, and fellow Georgia Army National Guard soldiers step for step Monday as they marched down Gloucester Street to welcome-home cheers.

Several hundred Southeast Georgia residents with American flags and handmade red, white and blue signs came out to give the 66 citizen soldiers a rousing homecoming after their year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

Jalen rode with his mother and the unit on a charter bus carrying the soldiers from Fort Stewart to Brunswick for the celebration that included a motorcycle escort, parade and brief speeches from local dignitaries.

Holding her hand, Jalen marched beside her in formation then hugged her side as she stood at parade rest for the ceremony.

"It feels really good to be home," Battle, 24, of Warner Robins said as she wrapped her arms around her son after the parade.

"We really appreciate all the people coming out for us. It really makes you feel good to know that people at home support us. I feel like this is my second family," Battle said.

Jalen replied eloquently, albeit silently, when asked if he was happy his mother was back. He grabbed her in a bear hug.

The soldiers from G Company, 148th Support Battalion, 48th Brigade had a key role in Afghanistan. They were responsible for training and mentoring Afghan troops near Kabul, and provided logistical support to troops in the region, said Brig. Gen. Larry Dudney, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix commander.

"The most important job they did, that you should be proud of, is they brought everyone home," Dudney said. "This is a wonderful thank you for them."

Elizabeth Hoskins, escorted by her Boston terrier-mix, Tucker, came to cheer for the troops.

"I just wanted to be here to be supportive of the soldiers and their families. I'm so happy for the families that they get them home again. They are really special people to serve," Hoskins said. …

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