298th Welcomed Home

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The 60 men and women who serve with the 298th Corps Support Battalion of the Mississippi National Guard were greeted by family and well-wishers at a reception that was held for them at the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia.

"This is absolutely magnificent to be able to welcome home troops from Mississippi back from the warfront," said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, Mississippi's adjutant general.

The 298th had been on active duty for about a year, serving in Kuwait and Iraq, after first reporting to Ft. Stewart, Ga. in December 2003.

"Just coming back now, it's over. We've done our job and we're ready to get back to our life," said Lt. Col. Frank Tapper, commander of the unit.

The mission was a long one. The men and women of the 298th echoed their commander's words. They're thankful to see home.

"It means a whole lot. It's just unbelieveable. It has been a long time and I'm just glad to be back," said Sgt. Todd Stephens of Philadelphia, who was holding a baby in his arms.

"I'm grateful that they went and God brought them back to us," said Deloris Hinton, whose husband serves with the 298th. "And I have two sones. They have their father back home."

"For the last year, we've been out there fighting for our country. And I think it's well worth it and it was for a good cause," said unit member
Randy Thomas, who was surrounded by his family.

The battalion served its tour in Iraq near Fallujah. It provided maintenance and logistical support for many units, including the 1st Infantry Division and elements of the United States Marine Corps. The 298th's duties ranged from transportation to ammunition supplies and service, all essential to the mission in Iraq.