Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Guard Sendoff - April 13

On April 13, Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Bravo Company Second Battalion will leave Newnan on the first leg of their deployment to Afghanistan.

The community is encouraged to show support by lining the streets of Newnan to see them off.

The company will travel to Camp Shelby, Miss., on April 13. The brigade will remain in Mississippi until the end of May/beginning of June, at which time they will deploy to Afghanistan.

Approximately 130 soldiers are attached to the local brigade, which is based in Newnan at the Jackson-Pless National Guard Armory next to Newnan High School. Their mission abroad during the year-long tour will be to train and mentor the Afghan National Army.

Roughly half of the 130 soldiers went with the brigade to Iraq in 2005.

According to Newnan Police Chief Douglas L. "Buster" Meadows, the unit is scheduled to depart the armory at 10 a.m. -- though that time is subject to change -- and the route will take them to the Court Square and up Bullsboro Drive to I-85 Exit 47. Organizers are hoping to raise the large Newnan Fire Department flag in downtown for the unit to travel under on their way out of town.

The soldiers will be escorted southbound on Interstate 85 all the way to the Meriwether County line where a new escort will pick up the transport.

"Come out and show your support," said Meadows. "Let them know that you're thinking about them."

Meadows invites the community to unite in a show of patriotism. Supporters are encouraged to wear red, white and blue and wave American Flags. Meadows hopes to have people lined all the way out Bullsboro Drive.

Downtown Newnan merchants have been invited to show support by displaying yellow ribbons in their storefronts.

"The community showing support reminds the soldiers that the sacrifices they make for the country have not gone unnoticed and the community supports their efforts," said First Lt. Jason Rich, who is among those deploying. "When a town comes out and rallies around a deploying unit, it is an awe-inspiring sight for a young soldier who is being thrust into the unknown. It is a bit of comfort in an uncertain time."

Local volunteers are building a Web site for the deploying unit so the public can track changes, receive updates, show support and purchase merchandise.

T-shirts, magnets and other unit paraphernalia will be available from the Web site, and the net proceeds will go to support the troops and their families. Web site organizers hope to build the site up as time passes to allow area residents and churches to adopt soldiers online as a way to provide ongoing support.

The Web site is . Check online for the latest updates to the Newnan send-off.