A Dalton, Ga.-based National Guard unit is about to join the troop surge in Afghanistan, and the community wants the soldiers to know they are appreciated.
About 85 members of the Georgia National Guard's 1/108th Cavalry Regiment are set to leave early Tuesday morning for predeployment training at Camp Shelby, Miss. Their families, friends and supporters are planning a grand sendoff for them, and they hope the community at large will join in, says Sarah Harrison, executive director of the Dalton Downtown Development Authority.
"We are encouraging people to come out and bring their flags and make banners and signs," Ms. Harrison said. "We want (the troops) to know that we support them. We will be thinking about them and praying for them, and we will be supporting their families while they are away."
Families will hold a private ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today at First Presbyterian Church on Tibbs Road, according to Kate Walker, the unit's Family Readiness Group coordinator. At about 11:15 a.m., the troops will line up for a public motorcade through downtown to the National Guard Armory on Crawford Street.
An official sendoff ceremony open to the entire community is scheduled for noon at the Armory.
The 1/108th deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006, according to Lt. Col. Kenneth Baldowski, spokesman for the Georgia National Guard. At that time, they were a heavy artillery unit.
In Afghanistan, the unit will be performing reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, he said.