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Funds sought to bring soldiers home for holiday

The soldiers of the 158th Support Maintenance Company will not be home for Christmas. But, if their families can raise $10,000, they will be home for Thanksgiving.

The 158th Support Maintenance Company is based in Tallassee but is made up of soldiers from across the state, including soldiers from Brundidge, Troy and Brantley.

The company is currently training at Camp Atterbury, Indiana in preparation for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Their mobilization will be for about 365 days.

Mary Tillery’ son, Mark Gibson, and her nephew, Kevin Singleton, are members of the 158th.

“Some of the soldiers in the Tallassee unit were non-deployable and they had to fill those spots with soldiers from other units,” Tillery said. “There are five or six from Troy, and about 20 each from Brundidge and Brantley. So, there’s a good number of young men and women from our area in the company. They’ll have the opportunity to come home for Thanksgiving before actual deployment if $10,000 can be raise to help defer the cost of the bus transportation.

Arrangements are being made through the unit’s Family Readiness Group, which will pay half of the $20,000 cost of the five buses needed to bring the soldiers home for Thanksgiving.

“The soldiers must come as a unit,” said Tillery of Troy. “Either they all come or none of them come. We are trying to raise money through the families but not all of the families are able to contribute and $10,000 is a lot of money to raise, especially with times the way they are.”

Tillery said many of the soldiers are young married people.

“I think about 17 of them have either just gotten married or are expecting babies,” she said. “There’s one young woman whose husband was killed in a car accident six months ago. She has two little girls but she’s having to go because her number came up. It would mean so much to all of these soldiers to be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”

Tillery said this will be the one and last chance that the soldiers of the 158th Support Maintenance Company have to see their loved ones before they “go across the water,” she said. “Mark is my youngest son. He’s only 20 years old but we’ve been through a lot together. Having him go is like losing my right arm. I’m sure other mothers feel the same way.”

Funds are being raised to bring all the soldiers of the 158th home for Thanksgiving. If the money can be raised, the soldiers will arrive on Thanksgiving morning and leave on Sunday.

“It will be real hard to say goodbye again but we want to take advantage of every chance that we have to be together,” Tillery said.

Those who would like to make a contribution to the Thanksgiving ‘homecoming’ of the 158th may do so by making checks payable to 158th Support Maintenance Company Family Readiness Group, C/O Mary Tillery, P.O. Box 1290, Troy, AL 36081.