They served in Iraq in 2004-2005 and again in 2010. Eight members were killed in action in 2005. In 2010, Spc. Robert D. West earned a Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.
Community holds dinner for 278th members
Daily Times, The (Maryville, TN)-June 24, 2004
Author: Lauren Byrd of The Daily Times Staff
Some people might catch a bite to eat at Foothills Mall while running errands, but on Wednesday night there was a special dining experience.
The Family Readiness Group, Foothills Mall, area churches and the community held a send off dinner for the First Squadron Howitzer Battery, based at the National Guard Armory on West Lamar Alexander Parkway. Local members of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment will join other elements of the regiment soon for training in Mississippi.
The Family Readiness Group supports local families with members serving in the military. Paula McLemore, leader of the organization, was happy with the turnout for Wednesday’s event.
“It seems to have taken off. We’re very pleased with the community and the number of people who turned out,” she said. McLemore was personally invested in the event. She is the wife of Sgt. 1st Class Ron McLemore.
Paula McLemore, other members of the Family Readiness Group and Foothills Mall Marketing Director KaLyn Rehrig met early last week to discuss the possibilities for a send-off.
“KaLyn realized that they weren’t having any kind of going-away party, and so we decided to hold one here,” Paula McLemore said. “We felt like it could be done.”
Rehrig said the Maryville squadron is shipping to Hattiesburg for training on Friday. “We didn’t want to take away the last night with their families, so that’s why we decided to hold it Wednesday,” Rehrig said.
“Also, we knew many local churches had Wednesday night suppers, so we produced and passed out flyers to the churches to bring their dishes here.”
Don Thompson of Everett Hills Baptist Church did just that. “Our church dismissed services tonight so we could attend,” he said.
Col. Mark Hart, commander of the First Squadron, which includes the Maryville and Alcoa areas, addressed the crowd. “It’s great to see people turn out like this,” he said.
“Besides getting ready, we’ve had a lot of good food lately. I was interviewed down in the Chattanooga area, and someone told me that he appreciated the sacrifices we were going to make for our families and country. But our mission is not only to help our country, it is to bring each and every one home safely. I want everyone to see the smiling faces of their loved ones again.”
Hart said the support the troops have received was fantastic.“We’ve gotten this type of support and appreciation all throughout East Tennessee,” he said. “The people in this area really embody the volunteer spirit.”
Linda Daugherty was there supporting her son Timothy. “I’m just overwhelmed,” she said of the event. “The community has been so appreciative and supportive.”
James Cable, an employee of Foothills Mall, said he had just returned home after vacationing in Europe. “Being over there, I felt a lot closer to the war and more aware of what was going on,” Cable said. “I think it’s nice that people are still willing to protect our country and our way of life.”
Sgt. Thomas Vananda, who has a wife and an 11-year-old son, said he was just ready to go. “I’m ready to get it started, but I know a lot of the guys don’t want to leave their families,” he said.
Hart said he’d heard about troops that had already returned and who had gone through debriefings.
“They were asked what they were fighting for. Their country, their families, their beliefs?” Hart said. “But they said that they were fighting for the guy beside them. Some of these guys have been around each other for a long time, and I have no doubt it will be the same for them.”
After the supper, participants sang patriotic songs. The soldiers then fell into formation as their families and other community members saw them off.
Copyright (c) 2004 The Daily Times, Maryville, TN
- 278th Soldier Serving Fourth Deployment: He Wants to Give Something Back (waronterrornews.typepad.com)