Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 18, 2013

Homecoming!

304th MP on American soil

— — Congratulations are in order for the soldiers of the Bluefield-based 304th Military Police Company of the U.S. Army Reserves, who returned to the United States last week following a year-long deployment that included service in Afghanistan.

The soldiers will be returning to their homes in the near future. They arrived at Fort Bliss in Texas last week “for demobilization,” according to Jamie Peck, Family Readiness Group Leader. Peck adds that the soldiers “are all being flown from (Fort Bliss) to their homes of record” spanning from Florida to New York, as well as West Virginia.

Oraetta Hubbard, executive director of Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia, told the Daily Telegraph that her nephew, Sgt. Alfred Jonathan “A.J.” Wild of the 304th MP, told her the company flew from Afghanistan to Maine last week where they saw green grass for the first time in months.

According to Hubbard, from there, the company flew to Texas to undergo about two weeks of debriefing before returning home. Wild lives in Bluefield and works with the Princeton Rescue Squad.

The company was activated and told to prepare for deployment in early June 2012. Their deployment included training in Fort Bush, Texas, before their arrival in Afghanistan last December. This is not the first time the company has been ordered to active military service. In fact, the now concluded Afghanistan deployment marked the fourth time that the company has been ordered to active status since it became headquartered in Bluefield on April 4, 1963.

The 304th MP Company’s history dates back to World War II when it was formed on Jan. 6, 1942, to serve as a prisoner of war escort company. After World War II, the company was based in Kentucky until 1963 when it was moved to Bluefield. The company was ordered into active duty on May 4, 1991, and sent to Kuwait where it later operated a POW camp during Operation Desert Storm. The company was activated again on July 2, 1996, to March 27, 1997, for service in Germany and was activated again on Dec. 6, 2002, to Dec. 5, 2003, for duty at Fort Stewart.

Plans for a community homecoming celebration in the Bluefield area to formally welcome the soldiers back home to America is underway. It is our hope that a large and appropriate ceremony can be scheduled.

We applaud the soldiers of the 304th MP for their long history of service and commitment to their country and state. And we proudly welcome them back home to the United States of America.

 

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