Troop movements ... 2 Slater soldiers arrive in Chillicothe March 11

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Joey Perry, left, and his father, George Perry, right, try to get Joey's niece, Kristen Perry, to look at the camera as friends and family welcomed home members of Battery B, 1st of 129th Field Artillery in a ceremony at Chillicothe Tuesday, March 11. (Anthony Navarrete/Special to the Democrat-News)

Editor's note: Charlie Guthrie of Slater escorted two Slater High School students to the event in Chillicothe. The students graciously agreed to report on and photograph the event for us.

On Tuesday, March 11, a crowd of people gathered outside the National Guard Armory in Chillicothe, eagerly awaiting the return of Battery B, 1st of 129th Field Artillery.

Family and friends of the returning troops faced the cold air with balloons, flags and signs declaring "Welcome Home Heroes" and "We Love You."

From left, Debbie Vickers and her son, Tyler, welcome guardsman Kelly Johnson home March 11. (Anthony Navarrete/Special to the Democrat-News)

The crowd began to stir as the sheriff's department blocked off the street and sirens could be heard in the distance. Soon a fire truck came into view followed by a procession of police cars and Patriot Guard Riders.

And then a cheer rose from the crowd as three buses came into view, bringing the troops from St. Joseph, where their plane landed. A sea of people pushed to get inside, hoping to be the first to embrace their loved ones.

Just a few troops entered first, but anticipation stirred as families hoped their soldier would be next to come through the door.

Suddenly, waves of troops poured through the doors and the room was filled with tearful eyes and heartfelt hugs.

Fathers held children for the first time, knowing they had sacrificed everything, from missing their child's birth to a year of their young life, all to serve their country.

One man said, "It's kind of crowded in here, but no one cares." All are happy to see the faces they've been waiting for.

After a half hour of greetings, embraces and rushed conversations, the formal welcome ceremony began.

First Lt. Matthew Martz introduced the commanders of the battery and told of the eventful history of Battery B.

Following that, the national anthem was sung by one of the returning soldiers and the invocation was given by Steve Dennis.

Remarks were made by Jamie Swendson, representative of Congressman Sam Graves, who welcomed the troops home and thanked them for their service.

Chuck Haney, mayor of Chillicothe, said, "Welcome home Battery B ... thank you for keeping America safe and sound."

Maj. Gen. King Sidwell gave the most stirring words of all. He started by saying, "God bless you and welcome home."

He paused for a moment to compose himself and then began again.

"I've been moved to tears. I think you can all understand the admiration, respect and love we all have for you and what you've done for us. You are what makes this country great."

After the benediction, the general gave the order for the commander to dismiss the battery.

Upon being dismissed, a cheer of "Hooah" rose from the soldiers. Some rushed to their families, but were then told to assemble outside for final dismissal from their commanding officers.

The homecoming of Battery B, 1st of 129th Field Artillery, was a joyfully boisterous occasion. The ceremony was both emotional and patriotic.

As the troops left with their families and friends, each greeted thier old lifes, but also the changes that had taken place while they were gone.

Welcome home Battery B, and thank you for all you've done for this great nation!

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  • Our Troops Are Our Heroes!!! They are the ones that make this country great!!!

    -- Posted by aen2012 on Fri, Mar 28, 2008, at 10:44 AM
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