Florida 53rd Final Group Arrival Delayed

Thursday's Welcome Home ceremony for more than 300 soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 124th Infantry Regiment with Florida National Guard's 53rd Brigade based in Pinellas Park. Photo by: Army SPC Christopher Vann.

The final group of the Florida National Guard 53rd infantry brigade soldiers has been scheduled to return on Sunday to Hunter Army Air Field near Savannah, GA.  Originally, the guardsmen were set to return Friday night.

Their welcome home ceremony at Ft. Stewart, GA is when the soldiers get to meet family and friends for the first time in nearly a year. That ceremony is rescheduled too.

Over the last two weeks, members of the 53rd have been returning in groups of a couple hundred at a time.

Members of Florida's 53rd Brigade have been deployed since January in Iraq and Kuwait. Photo by Army SPC Christopher Vann.

Florida guard officials were hoping all 2,400 members would be back and processed from active duty to National Guard status before Christmas. But, the demobilization process takes six to seven days and includes medical, dental and other testing. So, it means not all of the 53rd will make it back to their Florida homes for the holiday. However, the guardsmen can spend time with their families at Ft. Stewart if they were able to travel there.

The 53rd IBCT was deployed almost a year to Kuwait and Iraq. They were tasked with protecting convoys that traveled from Kuwait to Iraq. During their deployment, two soldiers died but not from combat. One was killed in a rollover accident, the other was diagnosed with cancer and returned to the states.

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