Welcome Home, 1165th
By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
Detachment 1 1165th Military Police Unit of the Alabama Army National Guard arrived at Lawson Air Field, Fort Benning, Ga. Sunday night, welcomed by crowds of excited family members and supporters.
The troops, based out of Brewton and Fairhope, deployed to Iraq in May 2003, and in April of this year, their service in the Middle East was extended an additional 90 days, just as they were preparing to return home.
When the soldiers landed in Georgia on Sunday night, they at first could only greet eagerly waiting family members through a chainlink fence surrounding the airfield. After being processed and securing their weapons that night, the soldiers got their first close contact with family and friends in over a year.
On Monday morning, the troops and their loved ones were treated to a welcome home ceremony at Fort Benning's CRC Pavillion. The troops will remain at Fort Benning until this Saturday, July 17, when they'll return by bus to Brewton and Fairhope.
Brewton members of the 1165th will be escorted from Fort Benning to Brewton by a squad car from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office or the Brewton Police Department.
The group is expected to travel from Interstate 65 down Hwy. 31, through Brewton and to the armory around midday on Saturday, July 17.
Area citizens have been busy since last week, preparing a fitting welcome for the men of the 1165th.
According to Lanier, volunteers will continue to work through the week and will put ribbons out on Friday night. The signs and banners will go up early Sunday morning before the troops arrive. The Brewton Lions Club has also agreed to put out about 200 American flags along the route.
Local people are encouraged to gather along the route to greet the soldiers as they pass through Brewton, and everyone is welcome to a short celebration at the armory when they arrive there.
There is plenty of opportunity for local people, churches and civic groups to get involved in this week's welcome home activities. Anyone is welcome to stop by the Brewton Area YMCA this week to make signs and banners, or groups can make signs on their own. Contact Georgia Lanier at the YMCA -- 867-9622 -- for information on how to help.
The Brewton Standard is also planning special continuing coverage of the soldiers' return. Stop by our office on Saint Nicholas Avenue to sign a "Welcome Back" page or to schedule a special message for your loved one who's a member of the 1165th.