TIFTON - Two months after being deployed from Tifton, the 377th Quartermasters Army Reserve company is back in town.

Mayor Paul Johnson, musicians from the Tift County High School band and an ROTC honor guard turned out to welcome the soldiers home Wednesday in a ceremony held at Abraham Baldwin College's Gressette Gymnasium.

"There was nothing more emotional than the going away provided by the people of this great community as we departed," Chief Fred Davis said during the "officers' remarks" portion of the ceremony.

"Some of us had tears in our eyes. We could not believe the waves, the flags, the signs and the people who continued on to Ware County with us," said Davis. "The escorts made us all feel special."

The Quartermasters were at Fort Stewart for two months but never had to go overseas. Guest of honor Brig. Gen. Larry Knightner told the assembled soldiers that their service was "just as important as every soldier's who went into the theater of operations."

"You answered the call, you came forth unselfishly, and you have accomplished your initiative," Knightner said. "We are blessed to be in America, where our armed forces and those of our allies, the British, were so ready to go into Iraq that we did not have to call all of the units forward.

"Hold your head up high and let everybody know that you're proud of the service you've given."

Also speaking during the ceremony were S. Sgt. William Stone, Lt. Col. Gary Danielson, Lt. Robert Whitaker, Sgt. Ray Ewings, Capt. Marshall Hale and 1st Sgt. Benjamin Ford.

Johnson and his wife, Patricia, presented the company the yellow ribbons that had been displayed in their yard since the beginning of the war.

"These ribbons were our way of saying, 'Come back soon,'" Johnson said. "We now give them to you. We value you, we love you and we appreciate you."

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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