287th Returns Home, Gets Temporarily Stranded

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.

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  • by Jackie Location: Meridian on Nov 23, 2010 at 04:25 PM
    I wish everyone will stop blaming the staff in Livingston, Alabama. One of the Soldiers that returned is my nephew and I personally spoke to him about this incident, and he stated, the staff and personnel in Livingston, AL were not at fault. He stated that the staff members had even offered to use the personal vehicles to pick them up if needed, but they did not have time to call them prior to leaving because they did not get their itineraries until 2:00 am. He said that the staff members in Livingston gave them total support while they were deployed by assisting them with admin issues and sending numerous care packets. My nephew has been in this unit for over 12 years, and he stated that they have the best staff, not only do they help them with military issues, but personal issues also. I asked him to please tell them I was sorry they had to take blame for something that was not their fault, but he stated, they were just happy to have their Soldiers back safe. Thanks to that staff
  • by Peabody Location: Zero on Nov 23, 2010 at 09:11 AM
    Posted by: Meridian Location: Meridian on Nov 22, 2010 at 08:34 AM They signed up for the army. Why do we celebrate when them do their jobs?: We celebrate them so stupid people like you can post stupid comments like yours. I see why you won't post your real name[Peabody is not my given name but it is the name I have went by since '74 so squash that reply] as I'm sure your family and friends if you have any would give you grief for being so stupid. A mistake was made in not picking these heroes up but all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for protecting my life.
  • by Meridian Location: Meridian on Nov 22, 2010 at 06:34 AM
    They signed up for the army. Why do we celebrate when them do their jobs?
  • by Scotty Location: Decatur on Nov 21, 2010 at 07:21 AM
    Hey Robert, THANK YOU for your service. I enjoyed working with you years ago here in Decatur, You are truly a friend for life.
  • by Katherine Location: Livingston,Al on Nov 20, 2010 at 07:57 PM
    After seeing what happen to those soliders, really disappointed me and really sent a bad statement from our city. I know things happen and people forget, but how did this happen. I think those soliders Need An public apology from whom ever didn't do there job. Come on unit leaders if you guys won't be all over Livingston everyday doing personal things on government time, this might have not happen.
  • by Andrea Location: Meridian on Nov 19, 2010 at 08:49 PM
    with all due respect to the post from the fellow reservist who posted from washington, and asked the question, "where was the family when the 287th returned at 9:30 a.m. after being deployed for a year, only to realize that they were stranded in Birmingham AL, the family was where they were expected to be in Livingston AL. I'm pretty sure they were in Livingston because this is where the 287th guard base is located as well as where they dropped off their loved ones to be transported to Birmingham. I do agree with you that it was a miscommunication. Mistakes happen and we are only human, but please don't blame the families for not being somewhere that they had no idea that they were supposed to be. The change of plans was because of a mistake made by their superiors and was not relayed to the family, who were expected to pick up their loved ones from Livingston, not Birmingham. But anyhoo, Thank God they are back safely and God bless you too for being a fellow reservist.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 19, 2010 at 02:28 PM
    I understand the point of the families not being there to pick them up. But, was it up to the soldier and families to find their own transportation to Afghanistan? So why should it be their responsibility to find it when they returned?
  • by Tessa Location: Alabama on Nov 19, 2010 at 06:49 AM
    Extremely poor management skills on the part of those in charge of the 287th in Livingston, AL. They should be ashamed of themselves! I haven't seen any news in the local paper or on the news regarding the return of our soldiers. I'm sure if the community had known they were arriving there would have been folks there to welcome them back. Members of the 287th, your sacrifice and service to our country is greatly appreciated and we are glad you are back home!!
  • by Cedric Location: Washington DC on Nov 19, 2010 at 06:08 AM
    I am an Army Reserve Soldier and I know that communication is key in any manuever in the Army. Yes there should have been a bus there to pick up the Soldiers, but my concern is where are the families? They were able to call the news station and report there was not transportation for the unit, but me personally I would have expected my family to be there to pick me up after I've been gone for a year. We all want to place blame on someone else but never on ourselves. Mr. Taylor in the interview said it perfectly that the end result was to make it home and that happen. Many times in the Army we as Soldiers have to adapt and overcome change to complete the mission and it sounds like that is what happened. Congrats to the Soldiers for returning home safely after their year deployment and I'm sure this was only a minor oversight in the Soldiers' eyes. We all must communicate better with each other to ensure coehisiveness within our units and families.
  • by Audray Location: Lakwland Florida on Nov 19, 2010 at 03:33 AM
    I am thankful the 287th returned home safely. While transportation was not on site to pick them up, their survival skills were once again put in place and they made it home to their family and love ones. I am sure this error will be reviewed and steps put in place to reduce this from happening to others, meaning the 287th continues to serve!We are THANKFUL to all our military men and women! WELCOME HOME 287th!
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