By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine area residents are asked to help welcome back the local National Guard troops, which will be coming by bus to the National Guard Armory in Palestine at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“We are hoping that the community will come out around the loop (Loop 256) to welcome the guys back,” Veterans Historic Education Center Director Evelyn Cupit said. “We suggest people coming out around the loop from 2:30 to 2:45 p.m. It would be nice to have people shoulder to shoulder around the loop.”
The bus is expected to come into Palestine from U.S. 79 from Jacksonville, taking a left on Loop 256, and will be traveling in front of Palestine High School and the Palestine Mall area until arriving on the northside of Loop 256 to the National Guard Armory, located at 601 Armory Rd.
The VHEC is working with the local Family Readiness Group, led by Phyllis King, to organize the “welcome back” event for Palestine’s National Guard Delta Unit 144, which was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2012.
Close to 30 members of the unit were deployed — some from the Palestine area and others from Tyler, Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas.
A brief ceremony will be held at the armory before they will be released to their families. The men arrived safely back on American soil on May 11.
Families of the troops have been told they can be at the armory around 2 p.m. in anticipation of the troop’s return.
“We will have a big homecoming party for the guys in September when they have their first active drills,” Cupit said. “On Wednesday, we just want them to know that we welcome them back and thank them for their service. They will be released to their families on leave as soon as the short ceremony is over.”