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Gainesville-based 802nd Ordnance unit could be home in November
Army Reserve group has served in Afghanistan for a year with no battle injuries
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The Army Reserve’s 802nd Ordnance Company enters Riverside Military Academy’s Sandy Beaver Center for Teaching & Learning during a send-off ceremony in November 2009. The company is scheduled to return from Afghanistan in mid-November.

The Gainesville-based 802nd Ordnance Company could return home from Afghanistan in November.

Members of the U.S. Army Reserve unit left last November from their Shallowford Road headquarters for the war, after brief training at Fort Hood, Texas.

"Fortunately, we have had no injuries from battle," said Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Levester, the company's rear detachment commander in Gainesville. "They're doing great and we're looking forward to their return."

A brief homecoming ceremony is planned at Fort Stewart near Savannah upon their return, and then soldiers will take staggered mandatory leaves.

A Hall County celebration is planned in March.

"The soldiers, being in a war zone, once we get them here, we're not going to try to hold them," Levester said. "We are going to release them back to their families."

Charlie Company, a Georgia Army National Guard unit based off Alta Vista Road in Gainesville, similarly returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan in late March and didn't receive a local homecoming celebration until June.

"We're going to try to model what Charlie Company did with their (homecoming)," Levester said.

The June 26 celebration at Lakeshore Mall ended with a ceremonial passing of a guidon, or military identification flag, to anticipate the return of the 802nd, which has served as an ammunition unit.

"In addition to continuing support for Charlie Company, we'll be concentrating our efforts to support the 802nd Ordnance during and after (its) deployment," said Don Landrum of Operation Patriot's Call, a local military support group that sponsored the celebration.

Dave Dellinger, one of Patriot's Call's key members, said the group had hoped, as it had with Charlie Company, to hold a celebration right after the 802nd's return.

"We haven't really planned on (the March event) yet," he said. "Right now, what we're working on is a couple of designs for (commemorative) coins."

Patriot's Call handed out coins to Charlie Company soldiers at the June 26 celebration, which drew hundreds of people lining a parade route from the National Guard Armory to the mall.

"What (the 802nd) would like to do is have (its homecoming) at Riverside Military Academy," Dellinger said.

The company got a rousing send-off at the Gainesville boarding school on Nov. 17.

"We've got all of our personnel," said Capt. Todd Bostick at that event. "We've got all our equipment. We're completely trained. We're ready to go."

 

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