Welcome Home Ceremony Dec. 10 for 56th Brigade

News Photo 2470
Texas National Guard 56th Brigade Combat Team Deployment - Soldiers run on to the field at Floyd Casey Stadium.
Photo By: Jason Raddin / Baylor Photography
Nov. 28, 2005

Media: See important contact information below.

Baylor media contact: Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275 or mobile (254) 709-5959

For more on the Jan. 1, 2005, sendoff ceremony, please click on this link.

Click here for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

After serving for nearly a year in Iraq, soldiers of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, will return to their families during a welcome home ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 10, at Baylor University's Floyd Casey Stadium. (For directions to Floyd Casey Stadium, click here.)

Stadium gates will open at 11 a.m., with the ceremony scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. More than 30,000 family members and friends are expected to fill Baylor's stadium on what should be a sunny day with a high in the 50s.

The soldiers - known as "T-Patchers" for the "T" emblem on their uniforms - will be returning to the same site where family, friends and community members said good-bye to them during a deployment ceremony at the stadium on New Years Day. It was an emotional sendoff that marked the largest deployment of Texas National Guard troops since World War II.

At the end of the Jan. 1 ceremony, Baylor presented soldiers with 140-minute phone cards that were provided through "Operation Phone Card," a community-wide effort that raised more than $123,000 to purchase phone cards for each of the deploying soldiers.

"Every day while we served in Iraq, I saw soldiers using those phone cards," said Lt. Col. Stephen Bentley with the 56th BCT.

Baylor officials have been working with Fort Hood and Texas Army National Guard officers since September, planning a special ceremony for returning soldiers.

"It has been an honor for Baylor University to work with Fort Hood, not only on the Jan. 1 deployment ceremony but also to be there once again to welcome our troops back home," said Tommye Lou Davis, chief of staff to Baylor's chancellor. "We have enjoyed working with the Army and the Texas National Guard, and we are appreciative of the special relationship that has been established between the university and our service members."

Approximately 3,000 soldiers comprise the brigade, which is part of the Texas National Guard's 36th Infantry Division. Although headquartered in Fort Worth, brigade members come from all regions of Texas. While the return of some units and rear detachments of the 56th BCT may be delayed until after Dec. 10, members of main body can anticipate reunion with their families and the demonstrated appreciation of the crowd of well-wishers.

"The men and women of the 56th Brigade Combat Team have made a significant contribution to the Global War on Terrorism, and now it is time for them to resume their lives in the civilian world." said Maj. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, Adjutant General of Texas, who commands the state's military forces. "We will be happy to have them back home in Texas. We know their friends and family will cherish their return home - a very special holiday homecoming."

The brigade was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom Aug. 15, 2004, and trained during the months leading up to their deployment. Following the Dec. 10 event, the soldiers will demobilize and return to their homes, families and civilian jobs.

Among the returning soldiers are 29 who at the time of deployment were not American citizens yet, but who loved their chosen country so much that they decided to serve it. On Dec. 10, they will be sworn in as American citizens by U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr., a Baylor University graduate, and will stand together with their fellow citizens to receive thanks from their fellow Americans.

The 56th Brigade Combat Team consists of the following units:

Abilene - Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 111th Engineer Battalion; Company A, 111th Engineer Battalion;
Amarillo - Company A, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry;
Arlington - Company B, 2nd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Big Spring - Detachment 1, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry;
Brady - Company C, 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Brownwood - 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Coleman - Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Denton - Company A, 2nd Battalion, 112th Armor;
•El Paso - 3rd Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery;
Fort Worth - Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 56th Brigade; H Troop, 124th Cavalry; Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Irving - Company C, 111th Engineer Battalion;
Lubbock - Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 142nd Infantry;
Midland - Company C, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry;
Mineral Wells - Company B, 111th Engineer Battalion;
Odessa - Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery;
Pampa - Detachment 1, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry;
Plainview - Detachment 1, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry;
San Angelo - Company A, 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Snyder - Detachment 1, Company A, 111th Engineer Battalion;
Stephenville - Company B, 3rd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Weatherford - Company C, 2nd Battalion, 112th Armor;
Wellington - Company B, 2nd Battalion, 142nd Infantry.

In addition, individuals from other units throughout Texas - although not their entire units, were deployed as members of the 56th Brigade Combat Team.

Baylor campus map: http://www.baylor.edu/map/

Stadium Seating/gate chart: http://graphics.fansonly.com/photos/schools/bay/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/floyd-caseyseatingchart.pdf

Driving directions to Floyd Casey Stadium: http://baylorbears.collegesports.com/trads/bay-findingstadium.html

Media Information

News media representatives are invited to cover the official welcome ceremony for members of the Texas National Guard 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, who deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom on Jan. 1, 2005, and will officially be welcomed back Dec. 10, 2005.

Members of the media are asked to check in with the Texas Army National Guard public affairs officers beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the second floor lobby of the stadium's North Endzone Complex. Please be at the stadium no later than 11:30 a.m. to avoid traffic jams. There will be limited reserved parking for the media, so you are encouraged to arrive early. Live and satellite trucks should park in a designated area by the scoreboard on the southside of the stadium.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. at Baylor University's Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas. Access the venue from Interstate Highway 35 by exiting Valley Mills Drive east to the stadium.

The press box will be made available for print media. A credential for pressbox access will be given at the media registration table.

If you plan to transmit live from the stadium, please contact Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada at (512) 782-5050 or (512) 415-5623 (cell), and Col. Bill Meehan at (512) 782-1034 or (512) 413-7574 (cell). The Baylor media relations contact is Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, at (254) 709-5959 (cell).

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