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State Senate honors guardsmen for service in Afghanistan
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The Georgia National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade, including Gainesville-based Charlie Company, has been honored by the Georgia Senate for its one-year deployment in Afghanistan.

In a ceremony at the Capitol Wednesday, state Sen. John Douglas, R-Covington, also read aloud the names and gave a short biography of eight guardsmen killed in combat — including Maj. Kevin Jenrette of Lula — while their photos flashed by on overhead screens.

“It’s been asked often, ‘Where do we get these people, and why do we deserve them?’ ” Douglas said. “I don’t know that we can ever answer that question satisfactorily.

“They, and their families have paid the ultimate price, and we honor them here today, as we honor those who’ve come safely back to us.”

Douglas then asked the chamber to join him in a moment of silence for the fallen soldiers and the loved ones they left behind. He also asked the group to remember 49 wounded in action.

Jenrette, 37, was one of three Georgia Army National Guard soldiers killed by a roadside bomb and gunfire on June 4 in Kapisa, Afghanistan.

Col. Lee Durham, the 48th’s commander, addressed the Senate while surrounded by several senators and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Chestnut Mountain Republican, as well as a group of military leaders.

He thanked the senators for their support of the 48th, its soldiers and their families.

“We took 3,036 soldiers with us, and brought 3,028 of them safely home,” Durham said, “and it’s (because of) the leadership and skills of our junior leaders.”

The 48th began mobilizing for the deployment in March 2009.

By June, the brigade was in southern Afghanistan working to mentor and train the Afghan army and Afghan National Security Force.
Operation Patriot’s Call, a group formed several years ago to support Charlie Company’s family at home during deployment, is planning a homecoming celebration for June 5, the unit’s next drill weekend.

Details are still being worked out, but the event could feature high school bands and a ceremony at Lakeshore Mall off Pearl Nix Parkway.

Also, Charlie Company soldiers have been invited to walk in the Eighth Annual Memorial Day Parade on May 31, said Dave Dellinger, one of the event’s organizers.

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