Community support for Dowagiac unit homecoming Sept. 21-24Published 4:51pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012
After a difficult and sometimes tumultuous deployment, Dowagiac’s Army National Guard C 1-126th Calvary unit is expected to return to southwest Michigan within days.
After an IED attack that wounded 10 soldiers in late May, the unit, also known as C Troop, exited Afghanistan after a year-long deployment and returned to Camp Shelby in Mississippi last week. Through letters from loved ones and a community service project headed by Dowagiac Union High School’s Interact Club, a youth division of Rotary, C Troop received goodies and pieces of home during the months away. Now that its return is imminent, a few Cass County residents aim to give them the welcome the soldiers deserve.
“We want people in the community to welcome them back,” Jaime Stone-McEnaney, wife to Spc. Steven McEnaney, said. “If anyone and everyone could put out American flags, welcome-home signs or thank-you signs, that would be such a good thing for them to see.”
Stone-McEnaney said residents are asked to display their support, with flags and posters in yards, windows or vehicles throughout the weekend since an official return date has not been confirmed.
“They can put out signs or flags from Sept. 21 through the 24, those are the only dates that we know for sure right now,” Stone-McEnaney said.
Stone-McEnaney took the initiative during the past week and began letting people know about her idea. The Decatur resident said a few local businesses have agreed to put up signs while organizations, such as the Decatur VFW Post 6248, will place flags.
Stone-McEnaney said once the soldiers return home, they will be faced with reintegrating themselves back into family life and society. She said the welcome would help set the mood for such a big transition.
“We want to honor the soldiers for what they’ve done,” Stone-McEnaney said. “It’s a way to show your patriotism and that you acknowledge their sacrifice and everything they did for our country. It’s been pretty difficult for them, and their lives have been changed forever.”
Residents can purchase American flags and poster materials at local stores.