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Soldiers return home

Few parking spots remained at Greenville’s National Guard Armory Friday as family and friends of the 877th Engineering Battalion gathered for the long awaited return of their loved ones.

Forty-five soldiers from across Alabama returned after being deployed in Afghanistan, two of which, Pvt. Houston Brown and Spc. T. J. Gray, were Greenville residents.

Gray said he’s happy to be back on Alabama soil.

“It’s been a long year for a lot of us, but everyone made it back with all their pieces so we’re all happy,” Gray said.

Capt. Broderick Pickett said that the 877th is spread out all over the state, with soldiers from Calera, Foley, Montgomery and Enterprise, to name a few.

The troops now enjoy a dwell period, where they get a well-deserved break before reporting back in.

“We’ll go through the process of checking out all of our troops to make sure they are re-integrating into society and that their family life is back in order,” Pickett said.

Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon was there to welcome home the soldiers and thank them for all their efforts.

“It’s an honor to be in the presence of people who care so much about our country to go over and fight for our freedom and fight for what is right,” McClendon said.

McClendon commended the soldiers for selflessly defending the American way of life for people like his grandson, whom they will probably never meet.

McClendon kept his speech short and sweet.

“These families have been waiting for over a year to hug their soldier’s neck,” McClendon said.

The crowd let out a final cheer as the mayor ended his address, and the men and women of the 877th were officially dismissed by their commanding officer.