Pelham-based National Guard company deploys to Afghanistan

Alabama National Guard soldiers attending the ceremony in Pelham on June 22 present their family members with flags for the families to display while the soldiers are away serving for the year in Afghanistan. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

Hundreds of people crowded into National Guard Armory in Pelham June 22 for a deployment ceremony for Company B of the 1/167th Infantry Battalion of the Alabama Army National Guard.

The company, which is based in Pelham, and the rest of the 1/167th Battalion will be deployed to Afghanistan for approximately a year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to a press release from the Alabama National Guard.

Company Commander Scott Widner greeted the soldiers and their families during the ceremony, and thanked the soldiers for being willing to serve during a time of war.

“This is a testament not only to the soldier, but to you, the family,” he said.

Mayor Don Murphy thanked the soldier for their service and offered his assistance to their families during the year.

“I’d like to … thank each one of you soldiers for what you do,” he said. “We’re looking forward to your safe return home.”

The soldiers also presented a family member with a service flag to display during their deployment. The flags, which were first introduced during World War I, have a white field, red border and a blue star in the middle.

“The (flags) have been used throughout all wars and conflicts since,” Widner said. “Family members, display it with pride, knowing that your soldier represents the best America has to offer.”

Only a handful of Company B’s soldiers live in Pelham, many family members traveled from across the state and country to attend the ceremony.

Specialist Kody Meyer, 23, had 20 family members at the ceremony, including some from Maryland and North Carolina.

“It really does mean a lot that they all made it here,” he said. “Some of them I haven’t seen in months.”

PFC Joshua McKinney, 22 of Birmingham said he was both nervous and excited about the deployment.

“You’re walking into the unknown,” he said.

However, having the support of his fellow soldiers made the upcoming deployment less daunting.

“We’ve been training with them all year,” he said. “We’ve become one big family.”

The 1/167th Infantry Battalion is composed of six companies, including Pelham’s Company B, from across Alabama, according to the press release.