SGT First Class Robert Derrek Taylor is one of 35 members of the 287th Army Reserve Unit who returned home from a year long deployment in the War on Terror hotbed of Afghanistan.
He and fellow reservists arrived at 9:30 a.m. in Birmingham and discovered there was no bus waiting to bring them the more than 100 miles to the armory in Livingston.
"It's real bad, because they've given and protected us and they should've just showed them a little bit more because it's like they've been through enough," said Taylor's sister, Kathra Boston.
Once the discovery was made some of the soldiers hitched a ride back home.
"I picked him up and another soldier, took him to Demopolis, Ala., and came back to Meridian," said Taylor's girlfriend, Sherill Robinson. "Some rented cars (with their own money) and some didn't."
Even prior to realizing that transportation back to the unit's base would not be provided, Taylor's mother says she attempted to speak with unit leaders to no avail.
"Well, I called yesterday and I called this morning and they never answered," said Bertha Taylor.
Newscenter 11 also called the unit several times but never got an answer.
Taylor said unit leaders did not know the company would be arriving Thursday, but offered to send a bus once they found out. However, by that time, the soldiers had made other arrangements.
"It was a mis-communication," said Taylor. "When we got word from them, it was just bad timing and it just didn't go off well. I really feel it was mis-communication."
Maj. John Adams, Public Affairs Officer, 143d Sustainment
Command(Expeditionary, sent an e-mail 11/22/10 with the following statement:
After learning of a recent transportation disconnect concerning twenty-two of our soldiers who recently returned from a tour in Southwest Asia to include Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, our leaders deeply regret the confusion over this matter.
The twenty-two soldiers effected by this transportation disconnect are from the 287th Transportation Company. The twenty-two soldiers are a portion of the entire unit, totaling over 240 soldiers, that recently returned from a successful and honorable tour of duty.
The soldiers arrived in the United States November 13, 2010 at the
Indianapolis Airport. The unit was greeted by senior leaders from the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, Deputy Commander, Brigadier General Dunn and the Commander of the 143d Sustainment Command(Expeditionary,) Colonel Palzer. (NOTE: The 287th TC is a subordinate unit to the aforementioned higher commands.)
After which, all members of the 287th TC, as is the case with all returning Army Reserve units, go through an extensive de-mobilization process at various locations throughout the U.S. Welcome home ceremonies are conducted along with re-integration training to include individual screening focused on their well-being, reduction in deployment stress, health concerns and many other aspects of being deployed.
Upon completion of this process, soldiers are provided with transportation to their various homes of record throughout the United States.
The twenty-two soldiers in question were assigned as a "stay behind team" responsible for final closure of the unit's de-mobilization process. The soldiers were on individual orders authorizing them to incur initial expenses to their homes of record. The mis-communication occurred at this point.
The Army Reserve Yellow-Ribbon Program continues caring for our returning soldiers and their families months after their initial separation from a deployment.
The 143d ESC remains committed to its soldiers and will determine the cause of this unfortunate incident. All soldiers who incurred a personal expense will be reimbursed after their individual travel voucher is filed. This is standard procedure when traveling on individual orders. Efforts will be made to ensure travel arrangements are valid and we avoid this situation in the future. We are committed to our soldiers, civilians and families at all times.