Coming home: 900th returns on Friday

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The 900th Maintenance Company of the Alabama National Guard will return to Brundidge Friday after a year on active duty in Afghanistan.

The homecoming ceremony is planned for noon at Pike County High School’s Bulldog Stadium and the public is encouraged to attend as the soldiers from the Brundidge and Phenix City areas are officially welcomed home.

The homecoming route will be through Luverne along Highway 29 into Troy and then along Veterans Blvd. into downtown Brundidge.

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The Pike County Chamber of Commerce is asking individuals and businesses along the route to display the American flag, yellow ribbons and welcome home signs. Businesses throughout the county are asked to display welcome home messages on their marques.

The downtown Brundidge area will be decorated for the homecoming and people are invited to line the streets to show their appreciation for the service of the 900th and pride in their country.

Cindy Sneed, chair of the 900th Maintenance Company’s family readiness group, said the 158 soldiers of the 900th returned to the states early Sunday morning. The 900th is at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and will leave there for home on Friday.

Several local motorcycle clubs with retired military memberships, the Patriot Riders, Faith Riders and Legionnaires, will escort the military convoy through downtown Brundidge.

“The 98th Army Band from Fort Rucker will play prior to the soldiers’ arrival and as the soldiers march into the stadium,” Sneed said. “The soldiers’ families and visitors will be seated on the home side of the stadium.

“Keepsake roses will be presented to the families of the soldiers as they enter the stadium.”

The Rev. Jerry Wilkes, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, will give the invocation and the program will include six speakers, including officers from the Alabama National Guard and the mayors of Brundidge and Phenix City. The ceremony will be 30 minutes or less in order for the soldiers to be dismissed to be with their families.

Dixie Shehane, president of the Brundidge Business Association, said the BBA will have refreshments for the soldiers and their families following the ceremony.

“There’s no way that we can adequately show our appreciation to the soldiers for their service and to their families for the sacrifices that they made while their loved ones were deployed,” Shehane said. “‘Thank you,’ just doesn’t seem like enough but we do hope that they all know how much they are appreciated and how proud we are to have them safely home.”