The Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade will go to war again soon, and the city is planning a parade to show them people care.
Brigade soldiers from across the state have been in the city for a couple of months now, living Monday through Friday at the armory as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan this spring or summer.
Others have already headed out of state for training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. Many more will follow soon, or head to Camp Atterbury in Indiana. From there, they will head to Afghanistan.
April 22, the city will hold a parade through downtown Macon, with the hopes that people will line the streets. This will be the 48th’s second deployment in the war on terror. They returned home from Iraq in May 2006, having lost 26 soldiers in the war.
“The Lord is my savior, my God, and I trust him,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mark Southerland, who served in Iraq and also deployed to Bosnia in 2001. “He kept me through Iraq, and I’m sure he’ll keep me through Afghanistan.”
About 150 guard members, accompanied by the Central High School marching bands, will march from the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame starting about 3:30 p.m. They will head up Cherry Street, turn on Cotton Avenue and end outside City Hall.
There will be a ceremony there and a chance to mingle with soldiers and their families.
The parade has been scheduled for the afternoon in the hopes that schoolchildren will attend.
There is also a push to deck Cherry Street businesses with yellow ribbons, and Gov. Sonny Perdue has been invited.
People should bring flags and do “anything to show support and let the soldiers know that the community is behind them,” said Maj. David Casey, one of the organizers.
Brigade members will deploy at different times, depending on their battalion, said Staff Sgt. David Bill, a public information officer for the brigade.
All deployments should be complete sometime this summer, Bill said.
Spc. Adam Deich, a 21-year-old from Warner Robins, is preparing for his first deployment.
He has two children, both younger than 3 years old.
“I know it’s gonna be hard over there while we’re away from our kids,” Deich said. “But it’s something we gotta do.”
Macon City Councilman Rick Hutto suggested the parade.
His son has a friend whose father will be deploying with the 48th for the fourth time, Hutto said.
“I just thought that we should do something to thank them and show them that we care,” Hutto said.
To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.