December 10, 2008 Edition

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Donna Hay (from left) and two-year-old son, Adrian, Tahnee Green and Khristie Hayes were among those who met Saturday to prepare for the homecoming of the local National Guard unit.
TD Photo ~ Leslie Ginn

Local unit scheduled to return

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

The 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team continues its transition home with members of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry scheduled to arrive at Camp Shelby today.

The company, which is headquartered in Walnut Ridge and Rector, has been serving in Iraq with the rest of the 39th.

Approximately 280 soldiers from other units returned Monday and hundreds more were scheduled to return on Tuesday.

Company A has approximately 170 soldiers who are returning from the deployment. The company was activated in October of 2007 and shipped out to Iraq in March.

Once the troops have arrived at Camp Shelby, they will begin a four-day demobilization process prior to their return home to Arkansas.

The 39th is anticipated to be back on U.S. soil in its entirety by Christmas, although demobilization activities for many could potentially carry on past the holidays.

Decorations to welcome troops

On Saturday families gathered to decorate for the soldiers' homecoming. Family Readiness Group Leader Kristie Hayes said they are excited about the soldiers' return to Arkansas.

"Although I can't yet say the exact date, we expect them home within the week," she said. Having family members home in time for the holidays makes the return even more exciting.

"We're very excited to have him back," said Donna Hay, wife of returning soldier Jason Hay. "I've held off decorating for Christmas so we can all decorate together."

Ribbons, signs and other decorations will welcome the soldiers home to Lawrence County. In addition to decorations placed at the Armory by family members, local businesses and individuals have purchased signs to place along the roadways. The cities of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie have also hung yellow ribbons to welcome home the troops.

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