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Communities welcome home Soldiers

The incessant spring rains paused just long enough to allow Mount Holly residents a chance to welcome home a group of 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers.

Waving American flags and sporting yellow ribbons, it seemed as if the entire town, just a few miles south of Fort Dix, turned out to shake a Soldier’s hand.

“He’s the true definition of a hometown hero,” said Army mom Theresa Durham of her son, Cpl. George O’Malley. “He grew up here and now the town is honoring him.”

Spcs. Martin Borton, Mark Morehouse and Joe Sams, along with Pfc. Justin Schober rode into town on a Mount Holly Fire Department engine. Flanked by motorcycle groups, including the Warriors’ Watch Riders, the parade could be heard from all the way across town. The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Yellow Ribbon Club, resident John Hennessey, and Spc. Sams’ family also helped organize the event.

After speeches by local luminaries and challenge coin presentations, each Soldier got the microphone for a chance to address the crowd. All thanked their families, but Spc. Morehouse had more to say.

“I want to thank my wife again,” he said. “She’s the true hero, taking care of the family through this.” Having joined the military in his thirties, he said, made the separation more difficult.

Not all in attendance had family returning from overseas. Dot and Bruce Ward of Lumberton just wanted to welcome the troops home.

“The whole unit came back, every single one of them,” said fire department lieutenant Terry Matthews. “That’s amazing.”

Pfc. Schober appreciated the small ceremony.

“It’s more fun!” he said. “There are actual people here!” By that, he meant, everyone in attendance wanted to thank him personally, and all did.

Photo credits, top: Pennsauken held a Welcome Home parade down the Main Street on June 28 Photo by Tech. Sgt. Barb Harbison, NJDMAVA/PA. Photos: middle, the town of Franklin held a parade for the Soldiers from the 50th Chemical Company followed by a ceremony at the high school football field. Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Donnelly, 444MPAD. bottom: High Street in Burlington was the scene for a parade for the 1-114th Infantry. The Soldiers marched from their armory to the river front, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars held a ceremony to honor the troops. Photo by Spc. Robert Neill, 444MPAD.

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Volume 34 Number 5 Staff / Information
(c) 2009 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs