Unit with local ties comes home
By Jaine Treadwell
The Troy Messenger
BRUNDIDGE — Bulldog Stadium was rocking Friday morning in anticipation of the homecoming of the 900th Maintenance Company of the Alabama National Guard after a year’s tour with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The first hint the convoy bringing the soldiers home was signaled, in true Southern fashion, “Yonder they are! Comin’ down the street!”
Cheers went up at the sight of the first bus and then the shouts grew louder with each following bus. When the “Freedom Riders” marched onto the field a tremendous roar of appreciation filled the stadium but it was the sighting of, as Peggy Grissette, said, “our boys coming home” that brought the tears of joy.
And, more than a few tears had filled the eyes of the soldiers as the convoy made its way down Main Street in Brundidge.
The unit also included six Selma residents including: Anthony Lumpkin, Melvin Hall, Charles Bennett, Jarvis Richardson, Brian Olds and Rufus Watkins.
“It was emotional,” Guardsman Al Davis said. “For all of us it was emotional because we were finally home. And, yeah, a few tears where shed.”
Those emotions were held in check as the soldiers marched into the stadium and stayed in formation while they were welcomed home by Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage and Phenix City Mayor Sonny Colter. The unit was primarily made up of soldiers from both cities.
Ramage said Brundidge has long been a “guard” town and expressed appreciation to the soldiers for carrying on the proud patriotic tradition that is the trademark of the 900th Maintenance Company.
“We welcome you home and commend you on a job well done,” he said.
“This is a special time of homecoming for our soldiers. Actually, coming home to those who love you, care for you and have waited a long year to ‘get their hands on you again,’’’ Colter said.
But the soldiers had to wait just a little longer for that.
Major General John Harkey had a few words to say to the soldiers about their service to country.
The unit left for Operation Enduring Freedom on Aug. 8, 2010 and Harkey said they left with the confidence they could do the job before them.
“The mission went well,” Harkey said. “The mission was a success and a perfect accomplishment. The 900th completed 335 logistic patrols totaling a half million miles. Thirty-nine of the soldiers were awarded combat action badges.”
Harkey said the unit was commended by the Army’s 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne for its outstanding support under their commands.
“But the greatest accomplishment was that the 900th was deployed with 170 soldiers and returned with 170 soldiers,” Harkey said.
To that a cheer went up from the crowd.
“Duty well done. Welcome home. I salute you all,” Harkey said.
Company Commander Joseph Harmon said people often have in their minds what a soldier looks like.
“But it’s the heart that makes an American soldier,” he said. “The 900th did everything that was asked of them and often went above and beyond what was asked of them from the east of Afghanistan to the west. “