Guardsmen Welcomed Home In Kilgore Ceremony - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Guardsmen Welcomed Home In Kilgore Ceremony

An East Texas community comes together to welcome home a battle hardened group of soldiers.  It's a reunion, more than a dozen families have been waiting an entire year for.  That's because for the past year the men and women of the 3rd battalion, 144th infantry National Guard have been fighting insurgents in Iraq.

On Thursday, the soldier's loved ones welcomed them home at East Texas Regional Airport,  but Saturday it was the entire Kilgore community that gave them a heroes welcome home.  At Kilgore College Masters Gym, the thanks of a grateful community were evident.  They came from all over Texas, to show these soldiers that the hard job they do, is not forgotten at home.

"We support these boys because they're keeping us free over here," said Tyler resident Don Denson, who's son is in the 144th.  "That's the main thing."

"They've done a marvelous job, and we just need to let them know we appreciate it," said one Longview supporter.

"Its overwhelming, just incredible to have people come home and everybody here in the stands and at the airport lining the streets," said Corporal Donald Denson.

"I think it's important to show them we really back them," said Dallas supporter Von Dawson.  A flag the battalion flew in Iraq was presented to the city of Kilgore.

"I've been waiting all year to see my girls, and I've got a newborn son that isn't a newborn anymore," said guard specialist Juan Herrera.

"There was a huge send off a year ago, and I think they deserve no less than a huge return this year," said Dennison resident Lynn Bowen.  For the soldiers, it's proof of what they already knew, people at home haven't forgotten.

"We did our duty, and we'll do it again anytime we're called," said Corporal Denson.  The 144th infantry is now demobilized.  Most of the soldiers will now go on to new assignments.  

Bob Hallmark, Reporting.


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