The Gainesville-based 802nd Ordnance Company has returned to the U.S.
Deployed for nearly a year in Afghanistan, members of the U.S. Army Reserve unit headquartered off Shallowford Road arrived at Fort Stewart near Savannah Sunday and will remain at the base until Friday.
“Some are going home with their families and (others) ... will arrive in Gainesville Friday,” Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Levester, the company’s rear detachment commander in Gainesville, said Monday.
“They don’t have a concrete time they will leave here Friday,” he added.
A 45-minute parade will be held in the company’s honor at Fort Stewart Friday morning, “then they’ll be bused back,” Levester said.
“Everybody’s doing great: spirits are high, nobody hurt, no injuries, no loss of life or limb,” he said.
Levester said about half of the soldiers’ families are at Fort Stewart.
“Some ... came and gave them a hug and spent the night with them,” he said. “Then, (the family members) went back home because they had to go back to work. There’ll be a good percentage of soldiers coming back to Gainesvillle on a bus.”
A Hall County celebration is planned in March.
“That’s what we’re looking at right now, because that’s when (the soldiers) would all have their leave over,” said Dave Dellinger, one of the key members of Operation Patriot’s Call, a local military support group.
The 802nd has expressed interest in holding its homecoming at Riverside Military Academy, where area residents gave the company a rousing send-off last Nov. 17.
“It’s going to be the same thing as the National Guard unit,” Levester said of the event. “We’re going to mirror the way they did their welcome home.”
Charlie Company, a Georgia Army National Guard unit based off Alta Vista Road in Gainesville, returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan in late March.
The community held a homecoming celebration on June 26.
That event at Lakeshore Mall ended with a ceremonial passing of a guidon, or military identification flag, in anticipation of the return of the 802nd.