By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – The exact day is unclear, but the 223rd Engineer Combat Battalion of Aberdeen’s National Guard is scheduled to return home from a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan in the coming weeks.
The unit mobilized Oct. 4 and six American flags have hung from the ceiling of American Legion Post 26 in its honor since.
During one of the last planning meetings for the celebration of the soldiers’ return to Aberdeen, a parade route through town was finalized.
“I’m glad they’re coming home, but I am more overwhelmed to see our city come together to support them. To call the first sergeant and let him know the city is so strong in supporting this unit is amazing,” said Felecia Deavens, chairwoman of the 223rd Family Support Group.
After the 223rd is stateside, its members will spend three to nine days debriefing at Fort Bliss in Texas. Once Deavens receives confirmation of the exact return date and expected time arrival in Aberdeen, she will spread the word.
After the flight home to Tupelo, the unit’s buses will be met by Monroe County Sheriff Office patrol cars at the Lee County line and Aberdeen police cars and an Aberdeen Fire Department truck will fall into line in the vicinity of the Egypt Road and Highway 45 intersection.
The convoy, which may include Mississippi Highway Patrol cars and Patriot Riders, will continue on Highway 25, onto Chestnut Street and then onto Commerce Street and Highway 145 en route to the National Guard Armory.
“Once they arrive at the armory, there will be a closed ceremony for immediate family only, but we want the entire city to come line the streets, waving American flags and showing support of the soldiers.
“Our group will continue to support them after they get home and I’d like to see the city continue to support them just the same,” Deavens said.
The family support group is continuing its fundraiser for the troops of selling yellow ribbons for $5 and T-shirts ranging from $9 to $11, depending on size. The items are available at City Hall or by calling (662) 436-7202.