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155th advance party back from Iraq mission

An advance party of several hundred soldiers with Mississippi’s155th Brigade Combat Team, including some from the Brookhaven area,arrived in Gulfport Monday to begin preparations for the return ofthe entire unit.

“It feels great to be home,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Rollins,of Crystal Springs. “I’m glad of what we did, but I’m proud to haveit behind me.”

Jackie Clark said she could now remove the yellow ribbon tiedaround “the old oak tree” in her Brookhaven front yard. Her son,Maj. Charles Clark, was among the more than 3,500 Mississippi ArmyNational Guard Soldiers who make up the brigade.

“It means the Lord took care of my son and I’m happy to have himhome,” she said.

Clark’s nephew, Nathan Bilbo, said he “missed him a lot.” He wasglad they returned on a holiday, Presidents Day, when he would notmiss a day of school to welcome him home.

The returning soldiers filed past an Army team from Medical TaskForce Camp Shelby administering a tuberculosis test and were thenbussed to Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center (CSJFTC). Thesoldiers will receive a brief pass to spend time with theirfamilies before returning to the installation to finish makingpreparations for the unit’s demobilization.

Elements of the brigade will soon begin arriving at CSJFTC fordemobilization, a process that can take approximately one week.Once demobilization is complete, the soldiers will be released toreturn to their families and civilian occupations.