NC Guard engineers welcomed home at ceremonies across Triad

Raleigh
Across the Triad, 480 soldiers of North Carolina Guard's 505th Engineer Combat Battalion enjoyed their well-earned welcome ceremonies after their service overseas in Kuwait and Afghanistan to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Jordan and Qatar.

 

The three ceremonies held Aug. 3 - 4 were as different as they were similar to countless others for NCNG soldiers and airmen held across the state after 12-years of war.

The 882nd Engineer Company (Vertical), based in Taylorsville was honored with a demobilization ceremony at the Peace Haven Baptist Church, in nearby Yadkinville, Aug. 3.

The soldiers of the 505th Engineer Combat Battalion Headquarters element and Forward Support Company, based in Gastonia, N.C., held their demobilization ceremony at the Bethlehem Church in Gastonia, N.C., Aug. 3.

Wilkesboro celebrated the return of their hometown soldiers at a welcome home ceremony for the North Carolina National Guard's 875th Engineer Company hosted by Wilkes Community College, Aug. 4.

After deploying thousands and thousands of NCNG soldiers and airmen across the globe, the ceremonies match a now well-established tradition.

The official party of senior NCNG leaders and local officials each took turns with a hearty welcome home.

"We (the NCNG) are so proud of you," said Army Brig. Gen. Kenneth A. Beard, the NCNG's assistant adjutant general of sustainment.

Cheers from friends and family as the battalion's men and women marched to the rhythm of the NCNG's 440th Army Band. The ceremony had the ritual of the return of a North Carolina State Flag flown at each unit's headquarters overseas and the proud listing of their accomplishments from command.

"A job well done in different theaters thousands of miles apart," said Army Lt. Col. Christopher Gilbert, 505th commander, as he thanked his soldiers.

He had many reasons, millions of reasons to be exact. The unit's service across Southwest Asia saved American taxpayers more than $9 million with the engineers renovating, building, repairing facilities and providing logistical support to deployed U.S. forces. The units' soldiers and equipment logged more than 300,000 miles on more than a thousand missions.

While the ceremonies were similar, each had a unique story.

A father and son serving in the 505th Headquarters Company that deployed together.

"You always try to protect your children and what better way than to go with him," said Army Sgt. Jeffrey Wade Hurley about his son Army Sgt. Thomas Aaron Hurley.

Mayberry at war, as the fictional town's inspiration Mount Airy supported one of their own army Sgt. Kevin Clark of the 882nd.

"They (the town) were all very supportive with a community party when I deployed this time," said Clark.

A young father, Army Sgt. Cody Richards of the 875th Engineer Company, who returns to his daughter he left 25-hours after her birth to deploy nearly a year ago.

"They would kiss each other through the (computer) screen and she would try to play with him," said his wife, Cassie Richards.

There is one common thread though out these ceremonies – hometown support. Support from the churches and local college as they graciously opened their doors to the returning soldiers.

"Public support of the National Guard is critical to their (soldiers) success," said Beard thanking the friends, family and local leaders at the ceremony.

While the NCNG is always ready to deploy in defense of liberty, state and nation, North Carolinians are always ready to welcome home their citizen-soldiers.

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Contact: Capt. Rick Scoggins
Phone: (919) 664-6242

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