McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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September 26, 2013

McAlester-based troops set for welcome home ceremony Saturday in Norman

McALESTER — They’ll not only be home for Christmas, but for Thanksgiving and, appropriately, for Veterans Day too.

Oklahoma National Guard troops with the McAlester-based 1245th Oklahoma Transportation Company are set for a welcome home ceremony Saturday in Norman as they return from Afghanistan. The 1245th has just completed a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, said Col. Max Moss, with the Oklahoma Military Department’s Office of Public Affairs.

No casualties were reported among the 1245th while deployed in Afghanistan, according to Moss.

The welcome home ceremony is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Norman,  at the AFRC facility on Tecumseh Road, just east of I-35 in Norman.

“The public is invited,” said Moss, who is a former McAlester resident.

As the ceremony begins, the returning troops will march in formation, with some remarks to follow from guests expected to speak about the 1245th’s service during the soldiers’ deployment to Afghanistan.

“Then, they will turn them loose on their families,” Moss said.

The 1245th had deployed to Afghanistan in December 2012 with more than 100 soldiers from across Oklahoma as well as several other states, according to the Oklahoma Military Department.

In Afghanistan, they were responsible for transporting supplies throughout their area of operation along with providing security for themselves and for contracted civilians, Moss said.

The 1245th is a medium truck company whose soldiers are trained in the operation of the Army’s Palletized Loading System. Moss said that’s a system on the back of trucks that allows supplies to be more easily moved.

Not all of the men and women serving with the 1245th are truck drivers. The unit also includes fuel handlers, mechanics and administrative personnel, among others.

This hasn’t been the 1245th’s first deployment. The unit deployed to Iraq for a one year “boots on the ground” tour in March 2003. In 2008, the unit deployed to Iraq once more, with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Saturday’s welcome home ceremony is expected to be the troops’ last formation for a couple of weeks before they begin a program to help smooth their way from a war-time to a peacetime transition, according to Moss.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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