06/12/05 — A breakfast fit for heroes

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A breakfast fit for heroes

By Turner Walston
Published in News on June 12, 2005 2:02 AM

More than 200 members of the Army National Guard were treated to breakfast at the armory Saturday morning by the American Legion and 230th Family Readiness Group.

Guard members from the 230th Support Battalion drilled for the first time since returning from deployment in early January.

Mike Burris, former state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, spoke to the Guard members. "Welcome home," he said. "Job well done."

Burris said as soon as the troops heard gunfire in Iraq, they were veterans. "Not only that," Burris said, "you were branded a combat veteran."

"There's not a half-price sale on freedom," Burris said. "Never apologize for who you are, where you've been, and what you've done," he told the Guard members.

Melissa Thames works with the 230th Family Readiness Group, which connects military families with military and community resources. "This is their first drill since they came back from deployment," she said.

"This was a joint effort by the Americal Legion and Family Readiness Group," with donations from the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Mrs. Thames said of the breakfast. Wayco Ham Company and Krispy Kreme, along with the grandparents of Guardsman Justin Herring, provided the food.

Working with the 30th Separated Heavy Brigade, the 230th Support Battalion provided support with medical and headquarters units. Most members of the 230th spent 11 months in Iraq.

"We push beans and bullets to the front line," said 1st Sgt. David Tyndall.

Specialist E-4 Terrance Mitchell said one of the biggest transitions in coming home was the weather. "On top of that," Mitchell said, "you got bad guys over there. It's the atmosphere."

"It's good to be back with everybody," said Sgt. Danny Smith. "It's a lot less stressful here than it was over there."

"The biggest difference," Smith said, "is there's freedom here."

Staff Sgt. Travis Evans, a full-time technician with the National Guard, was happy to see familiar faces.

"I haven't seen these guys in almost 90 days. It's a really good feeling to see everybody back," he said.

Evans said he was looking forward to catching up with those he served with. "People might have gotten new jobs, new opportunities in people's lives. They're back and trying to get back into the groove," he said.

Evans said it was important that the Guard members retain what they learned from deployment.

"The experience that they gained, the training they've gone through, they need to take that for the next defense exercise."

Evans said he had seen the young Guard members grow up before his eyes.

"They have definitely matured in the 18 months," he said.

"They were green, then they went into combat. Now they're seasoned soldiers."