I had the opportunity last week to cover the Homecoming event for Charlie Company, Gainesville’s Army National Guard unit, on their return from their latest deployment to Afganistan. They actually had a staggered deployment as well as a staggered return over the last couple of months, but they are all home now and a Welcome Home ceremony was planned by Patriot’s Call and other local veterans service organizations from the north Georgia area. Local scout troops, firemen, motorcyclists and veteran groups arrived early to prepare for Charlie Company’s arrival.
Parts of John Morrow and Pearl Nix Parkways were blocked off by police and deputies so that the unit could march from their Armory on Alta Vista Road to the main entrance of Lakeshore Mall. They were greeted by hundreds of flag waving friends, family, and veterans all along the way under a big American flag held aloft by two of Gainesville’s ladder trucks, past an honor guard of veterans on motorcycles, and into the main entrance to the mall where local politicians, veterans from other wars, and their commanders spoke about their service and gave out awards for their service in Afganistan. The veterans and their families were seated while honor guards from the service organizations flanked the group during the ceremony. When the ceremony concluded, each soldier was given a special arrowhead coin to commemorate their service in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Afterwards, the soldiers marched back to their Armory for food, fellowship, family and a job fair hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 772 members and associates. It was a hot day in the summertime, but these soldiers didn’t seem to mind a bit now that they were safely back home with their families. It was a real privilege to be able to photograph this event and put together a little slideshow to show some of the activities last Saturday.
Here’s a little slideshow I put together with about 300 of the images taken at the Charlie Company event. Enjoy!
(If you want to see this in High Quality, click on the HQ in the bar below the show and you should be able to see the show in High Quality instead of low resolution).