Warm Welcome for Returning Soldiers

By: Shane Symolon Email
By: Shane Symolon Email

The Virginia National Guard 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team returned from Iraq and received a hero's welcome from residents in Staunton. The soldiers came home after an almost nine month tour.

As the convoy of buses wound its way through Staunton towards the National Guard Armory in Gypsy Hill Park, residents were waiting with flags and signs.

"They've been gone for nine months, and they've been protecting our freedom and we want to thank them for that," says Emma Drummond.

Bessie Weller Elementary School emptied its classrooms so students could show their patriotism.

"I thought our troops needed a lot of support and friendship, because they've been over in Iraq for a while and they've missed their families. My uncle's over in Iraq and I'd be excited to see him come home," says student Mari-Peyton Kouchinsky.

A reception was held for the troops after they met with their families at the National Guard Armory. Soldiers lined up one more time before they got a short break and U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte praised the troops for their service.

"No matter what your point of your view, no matter what your persuasion these men and woman deserve the thanks of their nation for their loyalty, their dedication, their courage and they're sacrifice," says Goodlatte.

Cary Payne says he got that thanks and he says he was amazed at how the community came together to support him and the rest with the National Guard.

"This is just super. All the people, we came through town all the way out from 81. It was just a great reception, tremendous, honored and humbled for all of it," says Payne.

Payne says, after all the excitement of coming home, he just wants to spend some quiet time alone with his family.

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