The first wave of soldiers from the 278th Regimental Combat Team to return from Iraq arrived around 3:35 p.m. on October 24. However, members of the Lafayette National Guard Unit were not included. They are currently under lock-down in Iraq and will be deported as soon as the necessary orders arrive. No communication is allowed during lock-down for the soldiers protection. They will receive orders and load planes for the 36 hour journey back to camp Shelby without any contact with civilians to prevent the planes from being attacked.
The 278th has 4,000 soldiers, 3,000 of them from Middle and East Tennessee, and about 1,000 from National Guard units in other states.
Preacher Blankenship, who has two sons returning with the 278th said, “We’re just relieved. We expect to hear from them anytime saying they are back on American soil.”
Daily planeloads of the returning soldiers are expected to arrive for next several weeks as the 278th returns home. They will have to stay at Camp Shelby for several days as equipment is checked in.
Soldiers, meanwhile, will receive 48 hours of free time to be with their families.