Time change for troops welcome home

KINGSFORD – Michigan National Guard officials have announced a change in the time of when more than 90 soldiers from the 1432nd Engineering Co. will return home on Thursday.

First Sgt. Jeffrey Gibson of the 1432nd Engineering Co. said due to flight times, the timing of Thursday’s welcome ceremony was changed.

“We are shooting for everything to go exactly the same as planned, except for the time,” he said.

Soldiers will fly from Fort Bliss, Texas to Sawyer International Airport in Marquette County, then load onto buses and travel to Dickinson County for a 4:30 p.m. arrival time.

Sgt. Gibson said the buses, escorted by the Patriot Guard Ride Team and local law enforcement, will travel M-95 to U.S. 2 to H Street to Carpenter Avenue to the Kingsford High School.

Buses should arrive at the high school by 4:45 p.m. A welcome home ceremony is planned for 5 p.m.

The high school gymnasium will open to the public at approximately 3:30 p.m.

“We are asking that all members of the public be in the high school gymnasium prior to the buses arriving,” Sgt. Gibson said. “We are hoping the buses arrive in time to pull the ceremony off at 5 p.m. It’s reliant upon everything else falling into place.”

The ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m.

Sgt. Gibson added there will be no ceremony or meet and greet of the soldiers while they are in Marquette.

“They will go right from the plane to the escort process,” he said. “Any opportunity to meet and greet won’t happen until after the conclusion of the ceremony.”

More than 90 Michigan Army National Guard soldiers from the 1432nd Engineering Co. based out of Kingsford are returning home following a 10-month tour of duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

While mobilized, the unit was combined with the Augusta, Mich., based 1433rd Engineer Company and performed route clearance missions. They received mission specific training before deployment and post-mobilization debriefings at Fort Bliss.

The company was led by Capt. Todd Falor during the deployment.

Today, more than 700 Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are deployed across the globe in support of the global war on terrorism.

However, as the Michigan Guard serves the nation abroad, more than 90 percent of the force is available, trained and ready to respond to a state emergency, including a terrorist event.