National Guard soldiers from Quitman were honored Saturday with a ceremony at Great Southern National Bank.
Detachment 1, Company B of the 150th Combat Engineer Battalion of Quitman returned home earlier this year with the rest of the 155th after being deployed for a year. Soldiers say that coming home is great, especially coming back to Quitman. The city has rallied around its soldiers from seeing them off to sending phone cards and other gifts, and now with a celebration of its soldiers.
"It lets you know how much the people in the community really do care. How much they were thinking about us while we were gone," said SSG Larry Howze. "And we appreciate all the love, care, and concern that all of them had for us."
Soldiers say that they are glad to be home and despite the changes, for the most part have adjusted well.
"It's going from one extreme to another. You can be riding down the streets and roads surrounding Baghdad and all of a sudden, you're heading down 513, taking your kids to school. It's just a big change," said SGT Jason David Melton.
Bank officials said that they wanted to honor the Clarke County soldiers because they are such a close-knit community.
"We're so grateful. When I see them I almost burst into tears. I want to hug everyone of them," said GSNB VP Peggy Doggett. "I want to let them know that I prayed for their safety--for them to get back home. I prayed for their families which sacrificed to be separated from your family."
That sacrifice is one that Melton says makes the families of the soldiers so brave.
"They were here trudging along. They're the heroes. They have to keep going day to day while we're over there," he said. "They're the real heroes."