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Charlie to come marching home
Members of Gainesville-based unit to return from Afghanistan next week
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More than 400 soldiers of Georgia’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, including members of Gainesville-based Charlie Company, are set to begin returning home from Afghanistan on Sunday.

Units are expected to arrive through Wednesday, according to a Georgia Department of Defense statement released Wednesday.

The 100-member Charlie Company, which is part of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry, has been deployed to Afghanistan since last March.

The 1-121st, which also includes units in Winder, Covington, Lawrenceville and Milledgeville, was charged with responsibility for all Afghan National Security Force development in the Paktika province in southeast Afghanistan.

It also had a company working directly with the Polish Battle Group conducting combined action in the Ghazni province.

Soldiers will land at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah and immediately board buses to Fort Stewart. A welcome home ceremony is planned before soldiers are released to their families at the base.

Retired Lt. Col. Ken Baldowski, a Georgia Department of Defense spokesman, said dates for the brigade’s arrival are fairly well set, but times could change with little notice.

Sgt. Casey Taylor, a Charlie Company member who remained behind to help with families, didn’t have further details about the unit’s return.

Plans for a homecoming celebration in Gainesville, meanwhile, have been changed.

Operation Patriot’s Call, a group formed several years ago to support the military unit’s family at home during deployment, had been organizing the event with an eye toward May 1 at Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville.

That date was based on the company’s first drill weekend after deployment.

“It looks like ... a lot of the troops had accumulated a lot of leave and they can’t take it all before the first of June, so the upper officials decided to make the first drill the first of June,” said Ron Kellner of Patriot’s Call.

The group has been planning a homecoming that would feature high school bands and speakers, among other highlights. Plans also included a parade from the National Guard Armory on Alta Vista Road to the nearby mall and then holding the ceremony there.

Patriot’s Call also is trying to provide financial help to needy families to travel to Fort Stewart, Kellner said.

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