Guard's 278th ACR comes home early

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment has come home early.

Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, said Monday afternoon that the state’s largest Army National Guard unit, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, will return from Iraq earlier than scheduled.

The first units of the regiment with approximately 250 soldiers from armories in Maryville, McKenzie and Henderson arrived in two flights at the Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16. East Tennessee soldiers arrived home in Blount County around 2 p.m. on Thursday to happy family and friends.

“In order to meet the National Command Authority’s timeline of less than 50,000 combat troops in Iraq after August 31, 2010, Soldiers of the 278th have begun leaving their Iraqi bases and heading back to the United States,” Haston said. “We are extremely pleased to welcome these brave soldiers home earlier than planned.”

The return will be carried out in phases with the Regiment returning home over two to three months. The first soldiers arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., in mid-June for demobilization. The remaining troops will demobilize through Camp Shelby in groups through the end of August.

“We thank them for their service, and we thank their families and employers for the outstanding support shown throughout this deployment,” Haston said. “The 278th continues the tradition of excellence shown by the nearly 20,000 Tennessee soldiers and airmen deployed since September 11, 2001, and the generations of Tennessee Volunteers who served before them.”

The 278th mobilized in December 2009 for one year, with plans originally to return around December 2010. After pre-mobilization training at Camp Shelby, the unit deployed to Iraq in February 2010.

The 278th is composed of more than 3,400 soldiers from across the Volunteer State.

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