214th back, safe and soundPublished 7:39pm Monday, June 20, 2011
Second and final group of soldiers of Alexander City-based 214th MP arrive Saturday
The final group of soldiers of the Alabama National Guard 214th Military Police Company based in Alexander City had to wait an extra week before arriving home, but after Saturday’s bus ride into town, everyone is safely back.
Of the 170 troops, 57 had their return delayed until Saturday, eight days after the first wave of soldiers made its way to Alexander City on June 10.
Hundreds showed up in support of the soldiers for the first welcome-home ceremony at the armory, and another large crowd was on hand this past weekend to greet the troops, who were deployed to Iraq last June as part of Operation New Dawn.
The gathering at the armory was subdued as it waited on the rest of the company, but as the two charter buses, which were led by a couple of police cars and police motorcycles, rolled into view, people frantically waved American flags and the crowd loudly cheered until the soldiers were on the ground and in formation.
“It is my honor and pleasure to officially welcome you back home to Alexander City,” council member Bob Howard said to the soldiers and to the audience. “I cannot express how proud I am for your sacrifice to your country, and your sacrifice of being away from your families.”
Scott Parish is one of the soldiers who is from Alexander City, and his family was a welcomed sight on Saturday.
“I’m just glad to be back,” said Parish as he held his son, Justin Dylan. “The hardest part about being gone is not being around your family. I haven’t seen my little boy since he was five weeks old, and I’m just ready to spend some time with them.”
Following Howard’s words, Tallapoosa County Commissioner Charles Shaw, Lt. Col. James McGlaughn and Brig. Gen. David Brown each talked for a moment, then the troops were dismissed.
Family members ran to their loved ones for emotional embraces, and several people just shook hands and thanked the soldiers, whether they knew them or not.
“We know we were in good hands while the 214th was there,” Shaw said. “We will always be grateful for you, we’ll always be indebted to you and we thank you for what you’ve done for this country.”