A little more than a year after a ceremony at the Statesboro Armory officially began the deployment to Afghanistan for the 48th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, the first soldiers will arrive back at the Armory Tuesday.
Sgt. FC Gene Newsome said about 100 of the battalion's approximately 300 members who deployed will return to the Armory as part of a caravan around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“The group of soldiers along with family members will leave Fort Stewart at 5 p.m., so we expect to get to the Armory around 6,” Newsome said. “It sure would be great to see a big crowd on the streets and at the Armory to welcome them home.”
The Bulloch County Sheriff's Office will send three units to escort the soldiers home. They should arrive in Statesboro around 6 p.m., said Chief Deputy Gene McDaniel.
"It is an honor to be part of bringing these soldiers back home," he said. "They have been gone about a year, and we're glad to have them back. We're glad to see them home and appreciate what they have done."
McDaniel said the expected route of return is on Ga. 67, down Fair Road and into downtown Statesboro on South and North Main Streets. The caravan then will continue to U.S. 301 North to the National Guard Armory.
The Armory is currently undergoing renovations, so the vehicles will congregate in the motor pool area of the Armory grounds, Newsome said.
The soldiers from the battalion have been at Fort Stewart since they arrived at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah Thursday night. Newsome said he expects the battalion's remaining guardsmen to return home in the next two to three weeks.
About 2,600 soldiers from Georgia's 4,000-member 48th Brigade went to Afghanistan last year, which included the Statesboro-based battalion. While deployed, the battalion was charged with training soldiers in the Afghan National Army.
Laura Howard, the family assistance specialist for the battalion, said the soldiers would be released to their families after arriving at the Armory.
“It will be a happy day, indeed, to have the first group home,” Howard said.
Holli Deal Bragg contributed to this article.