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Fort Deposit National Guard to be deployed to Afghanistan

Capt. Clemon Byrd of the 781st Army National Guard and First Sgt. Irvin Snipes receive a sweet presentation from kindergarten students, from left, Stephanie Byrd and Coleeta Pugh, during a departure program for the troops held Monday.

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

A double salute was in order for the 781st Army National Guard Transportation Company of Fort Deposit this week.

The unit, which is being deployed to Afghanistan, had two sendoff ceremonies today prior to their scheduled departure to Camp Shelby, Miss.

A sendoff with state and local officials on hand was held at the Fort Deposit Municipal Complex on Wednesday morning.

But before that, the faculty, staff and students of Fort Deposit Elementary showed the troops how much they are loved and will be missed on Monday.

The children treated the men and women of the unit to cheers, presentations and a balloon release.

“It’s great. We’ve enjoyed the support we’ve got from the community so far. It’s been great from everyone from the police chief and mayor on down,” said Capt. Clemon Byrd, commander of the 781st.

He said the 781st would actually leave town at 8 a.m. today for Camp Shelby, Miss., to await deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“We just wanted to do something special for the troops,” said Wanda Barlow, a fifth grade teacher at Fort Deposit Elementary.

Barlow spearheaded the event, which featured signs of support all along Gilmer Hills Road and inside the school, a welcome, a poem, presentations from each grade and a balloon release.

Fort Deposit Elementary Principal Darryl Arms expressed pride in the men and women of the 781st and said he felt honored “because I admire you, and I salute you for your bravery.”

The 781st Transportation Company will deploy 120 men and women and will provide transportation support to units throughout the area of operations.

The unit previously provided support for operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, as well as responded to state operations in times of natural disasters.