Summer events planned in honor of 48th Brigade

The last remaining soldiers deployed to Afghanistan with the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard are set to land Wednesday in Savannah.

The unit officially returned home April 7, though a small number of 48th guardsmen remained in Afghanistan. The 48th Brigade’s final return flight was rerouted and delayed due to the volcanic ash clouding airspace over the Atlantic ocean.

With nearly all of the 48th Brigade’s 3,000 troops already back in Georgia, local municipalities have begun planning homecoming festivities for this summer.

On July 30, the Central Georgia Red Cross will sponsor a homecoming parade in Macon. The event will start at 10:30 a.m., with a welcoming ceremony at Macon City Hall following the parade.

Gov. Sonny Perdue plans to attend the event, said Ryan Logan, Central Georgia Red Cross spokesman.

The parade’s organizers have not finalized details of the event, though the July heat will likely “keep the program as short and sweet as possible,” said Andrew Blascovich, spokesman for Macon Mayor Robert Reichert. A similar parade to welcome back the 48th Brigade is scheduled for June 5 in downtown Milledgeville. On July 10, the city of Forsyth will welcome back the unit with a homecoming ceremony.

All three towns will hold “private family days,” Logan said, for the 48th Brigade soldiers’ children.

Many of the troops participating in the welcoming parades will be wearing their uniforms for the first time since returning from Afghanistan. The Georgia National Guard is allowing the 48th Brigade soldiers 60 days before they are required to report for their weekend “drill” duties.

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.