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Troops coming home Sunday

Friday, July 22, 2011

Soldiers from the Troop C, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry based in Le Mars are coming home Sunday.

After a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, the soldiers will be welcomed back to Le Mars at a 2 p.m. community homecoming ceremony at the Jim Lorenzen Football Field near Le Mars Community School in Le Mars.

About 85 soldiers will be returning with this group, according to Col. Gregory Hapgood, Iowa National Guard public affairs officer.

The route the soldiers' busses will take entering Le Mars from the north, traveling south on Highway 75, where they will take the Highway 3 exit (180th Street) and follow Highway 3 east into Le Mars. From there, the busses will turn south onto Business Highway 75 and travel to 12th Street S.W., which they will follow east to Third Avenue Southwest, taking a left on that street and then pulling into Stadium Drive near Jim Lorenzen Field.

The American Legion Riders, Northwest Iowa Chapter, will be escorting the troops into Le Mars.

The riders will meet the busses at Worthington, Minn., and escort them into Le Mars as they did Thursday with the troops returning to Sioux City, according to Gary Konz, commander of American Legion Wasmer Post 241. The riders will also form a flagline at the football field.

Along the bus route, a giant flag will be hung from Le Mars Fire-Rescue's aerial fire truck over southern Business Highway 75 to welcome the soldiers home, according to Le Mars Fire-Rescue Chief Dave Schipper.

The truck will be near Mr. P's Pizza and Sports Grill in southern Le Mars, he said.

The fire departments from Hinton and Pierson may also be sending a fire truck to be stationed near Jim Lorenzen Field because soldiers from both of those communities will be returning with this group, Schipper added.

The homecoming ceremony is being hosted by the local Family Readiness Group, an organization of soldiers' family members, friends and other volunteers that offer support for the soldiers.

Monica Hanson, leader of the family readiness group, asked that people arrive at the football stadium no earlier than 1 p.m. to allow time for setup.

At the homecoming each returning soldier will be given a yellow rose to give to a loved one, which Hanson said is a tradition of the 113th Cavalry.

Musical group The Browns will also sing a patriotic song they wrote for the troops, Hanson said.

She added that the homecoming ceremony will include the release of 113 helium balloons, honoring a soldier who was killed in action -- Staff Sgt. James A. Justice.

The 32 year old had been part of Troop C of the 113th Cavalry for several years, but was assigned to Troop A of the 113th Cavalry, based out of Camp Dodge, in Johnston, prior to deploying to Afghanistan.

The returning Le Mars-based soldiers deployed with nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard troops to Afghanistan for nine months.

The troops are traveling to Le Mars from Fort McCoy, Wis. where they were doing outprocessing after returning to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Family, friends and supporters sent the C-Troop soldiers off from Le Mars in last August, then the soldiers left the U.S. for Afghanistan in November after months of training preparation.

In Afghanistan, the soldiers' mission included full-spectrum operations, including lethal and non-lethal capabilities, support to the Afghan National Army and Police, and humanitarian aid, according to Hapgood.

Sunday's homecoming ceremony is open to family, friends, community members and other supporters.

Jim Lorenzen Field is at the intersection of 12th Street and Third Avenue Southwest in Le Mars.

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Welcome home Soldiers!

Thank you for a job well done and may God bless you and your families.

-- Posted by a777pilot on Sun, Jul 24, 2011, at 8:01 AM

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