Family, friends eagerly await 900th’s return

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whether the 98th Army Band from Fort Rucker plays “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” or not, one thing is for sure, there will be a lot of “hurrahs” shouted at noon today when the 900th Maintenance Company comes marching home from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The homecoming ceremony is set for noon at Bulldog Stadium at Pike County High School and the public is invited to be there to welcome the soldiers home.

Family members and friends have waited for this day for a year and the soldiers will be welcomed with shouts, hugs and many tears of joy.

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Larry Davis said Thursday that he is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 900th and especially that of his son, Allen Davis.

Davis knows what it’s like to serve his country in a foreign country. He and his son both served with the 900th during Desert Storm but “that was different.”

“I was there with Al and I felt better because I knew the people and the leadership,” Davis said. “This time most of what I knew about what was going on, I got from the television.”

Every morning, Davis turned on the television to catch the news and watch the ticker in hopes that no troops had been lost across the big water.

Davis said that when a loved one is on active duty in a country where there is conflict, it’s almost as if you’re holding your breath all the time.

Davis said that he and his family didn’t really breathe any easier until they learned that the 900th was leaving Germany.

“It had taken them three to five days to get out of Afghanistan but, when they left Germany, we knew they were on the way home,” Davis said.

Davis said that he was proud of the service of the 900th and the outstanding spirit of patriotism the soldiers displayed and the tradition they continued.

“This unit started in the late 1950s and it has a strong foundation that was laid down by two men that I especially remember – Lawrence Bowden and (the late) Reynolds Wallace,” said Davis, who retired for the Alabama National Guard with 42 years of service. “The 900th also served during the Berlin Crisis so this unit has a long tradition of outstanding service. And, from what I understand, these soldiers did an outstanding job in Afghanistan. We’re proud of them and proud to have them home.”

The homecoming convoy will be led along Highway 231 from Troy to Brundidge by state troopers and several motorcycle clubs with retired military memberships.

Cindy Sneed, chair of the 900th Maintenance Company’s family readiness group, said the 98th Army Band will play prior to the arrival of the 900th and as the soldiers march into the stadium.

“Seating for the public will be on the home side of the stadium for the homecoming ceremony which will last no longer than 30 minutes,” Sneed said. “The soldiers will be anxious to be dismissed to be with their families.”

The Brundidge Business Association will have refreshments for the soldiers and their families following the ceremony at the stadium concession stand.

Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage said that everyone is encouraged to welcome the 900th home by attending the ceremony at the stadium, lining the streets of the downtown area or displaying yellow ribbons or American flags at their homes or businesses.

“We want the soldiers of the 900th to know how much they are appreciated,” he said. “Not just on the day of their homecoming but in the coming days as they become ‘active’ in our community again.”