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Guard unit returning to town Thursday

Guard unit returning to town Thursday
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Three days and counting.
That’s how long until the 913th Engineer Co. comes home.
The local Tennessee National Guard unit will return to Union City Thursday, with an expected arrival time of 4 p.m., according to company commander Capt. Jacob Partridge.
He phoned Friday night to confirm the arrival date for The Messenger and emailed Sunday afternoon with the anticipated arrival time and the route the soldiers will take through Union City.
Partridge said the 913th will be flying from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Smyrna early Thursday morning and, following some additional outprocessing at Smyrna, will travel by bus to Union City.
Once back in Obion County, the bus will take the Highway 22 bypass around Union City to Everett Boulevard and then turn left onto West Reelfoot Avenue by Lowe’s to head to the armory on East Reelfoot Avenue.
The entire unit has been at Fort Bliss the past several days for outprocessing from active duty following service in the Middle East. They arrived at Fort Bliss in two separate increments, with part of them landing Aug. 5 and the remainder arriving last Wednesday night following a 15-hour flight from Kuwait that included one stopover.
Partridge said about a third of the unit flew into Fort Bliss with the Trenton-based 230th Engineer Battalion, which the 913th falls under.
“Everybody is doing pretty good,” Partridge said Friday night, explaining the soldiers are enduring waits in line for outprocessing. “We’re happy to be back in the states and we’ll go through anything we have to in order to get back to Tennessee. … Morale is good right now.”
The 913th is back in the United States today after being deployed in August 2011 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn — during which time the horizontal engineer unit had soldiers serving in Kuwait as well as Afghanistan.
While in Kuwait, the 913th completed several horizontal construction projects which accumulated thousands of equipment hours and included moving thousands of dump truck loads of soil or gravel. Projects included construction and maintenance of lots used to store equipment or supplies throughout Kuwait, as well as some de-construction of facilities no longer needed, and construction and maintenance of several miles of road.
The 913th also had a platoon in Afghanistan working on a priority engineer mission which the company commander previously said will aid in the retrograde of equipment and supplies out of Afghanistan when U.S. forces draw down.
Homecoming plans
The 913th’s Family Readiness Group (FRG) hopes the community will turn out in force Thursday afternoon to welcome the soldiers home.
“We’d like to see signs and banners and lots of people — just a real good turnout,” FRG president Sarah Kay said. “We’re asking people who own a business to please put some signs up — just go all out — to show the soldiers we appreciate them and we’re ready for them to roll on into town.”
The FRG recently sold homecoming T-shirts for the community to wear Thursday and a few extra shirts are available for sale for $15 each, although Mrs. Kay said they are selling quickly. Anyone interested may contact the local National Guard armory and the staff will get in touch with her.
Mrs. Kay said the FRG will be prepared for the soldiers to arrive anywhere from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, since the arrival time partly depends how long they are detained for the additional outprocessing at Smyrna. The FRG will have people in place at the armory on East Reelfoot Avenue after about 1 p.m. since families will be arriving and decorating will be under way.
The FRG will be releasing balloons in honor of the soldiers as they arrive Thursday afternoon and will be providing refreshments for their families. The Veterans of Foreign Wars will be on hand to distribute flags to the public and its ladies auxiliary will be there to assist with refreshments.
Mrs. Kay said friends and the public are being asked to park across the street from the armory since the parking lot will be roped off to provide parking for the soldiers’ families. There should be traffic control in the area.
It is expected the 913th will have a short formation before the soldiers are released Thursday afternoon.
The 913th will also be honored this evening when a flag pole is dedicated to the unit during the opening ceremony for the Obion County Fair.
The event will be held at 5 p.m. at the grandstand, where a plaque will be placed with the flag pole to note the honor.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.13.12

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