PELHAM, AL (WBRC) - On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of Alabama soldiers and their families gathered in Pelham for an official welcome home after their latest tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For these citizen soldiers, their job was not just keeping themselves safe, but teaching others how to do the same. The 51 men and women of the 4th Brigade 75th Division in the room Sunday, along with their comrades, helped train more than 13,000 soldiers last year and during their tours of duty overseas helped train Iraqi and Afghani soldiers to take control of their own security so American service men and women could come home.
"These soldiers who have expertise in training soldiers for our country, are training theirs," said Brigadier General Eddie Chestnut, the unit's commander.
Now that they're home, Chestnut says it's time to let them know we appreciate their service.
"It's so important we take time to let them get reintegrated, let them know how much we appreciate their service, and the support provided by their family," Chestnut said.
"Some of us deployed quite some time ago and were never able to participate in a welcome home ceremony, so it's been nice to honor those folks, but more importantly to honor the families, I think they suffer more on a deployment than the soldiers do," said Major Andy Fields.
"This is a great honor to honor our soldiers," said Tracy White, whose husband serves in the unit. "They've dedicated their lives and families, and secondly made many sacrifices so it is important we honor our soliders. And I'm very proud of Hoover for doing this."
"I think it's refreshing, it's a generous job," said Lt. Col Leo White. "It's generous of the US Army, and as a whole in the community to not forget and to remember the sacrifice of soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, who are serving abroad and often paying a hefty price."