Local News

N.C. National Guard soldiers get public homecoming at RBC center

Posted April 11, 2010
Updated April 12, 2010

— Nearly 4,000 members of the North Carolina National Guard and their families celebrated their return from Iraq in a public ceremony at the RBC Center in Raleigh Sunday afternoon.

Homecoming ceremony held for N.C. National Guard Homecoming ceremony held for National Guard

The 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team made history as the first National Guard brigade to deploy twice in the Iraqi war, spokesman Maj. Matthew Handley said. Seven soldiers died, including five from North Carolina.

Smaller ceremonies have been held in soldiers' hometowns, but Sunday's ceremony recognized all of the Clinton-based unit, which also includes troops from West Virginia and Colorado.

The public was invited to attend the ceremony, which began with a concert. RBC Center managers donated the use of the facility and its staff's labor to the N.C. National Guard for the event.

“It feels real good to be home,” 1st Sgt. Douglas Lodge said.

“I’m definitely glad to be back,” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Mooring said.

Mooring’s family was at the RBC Sunday to welcomed him home.

“It was really hard. I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it. I stayed sick constantly,” wife Lashay Mooring said of waiting for her husband's return.

While in Iraq, Lodge learned his daughter, Chasity, was joining the National Guard.

“I’m very proud. I’m more than outstandingly proud because she gets the opportunity to more or less follow in my footsteps,” Lodge said.

The 30th HBCT began deploying for training in December 2008, arrived in Iraq last April and came home in February.

The unit was stationed in Baghdad and handled the transition as Iraqi forces took over as the primary security force in the capital city. The N.C. National Guard soldiers helped Iraqi forces kill or capture hundreds of insurgents, spokesman Maj. Matthew Handley said.

The 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team also helped with the reconstruction of Iraq. Farmers serving in the brigade aided local agribusinesses.

On June 29, 2009, the last day of regular U.S. combat operations in Iraqi cities, an improvised explosive device killed four soldiers – the N.C. National Guard's largest single combat loss since World War II, according to Handley.

Killed were Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, Spc. Robert L. Bittiker, 39, both of Jacksonville; Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, and Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington.

On May 21, 2009, 1st Lt. Leevi K. Barnard, 28, of Mount Airy, was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol. Maj. Jason George, 38, of Tehachapi, Calif., and Sgt. Paul Brooks, 34, of Joplin, Mo., were killed in the same explosion.

Twenty-nine soldiers were injured throughout the deployment.


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  • Vietnam Vet Apr 12, 2010

    Unlike my return from the Vietnam War, these soldiers are receiving exactly what they deserve...what ANYONE that serves their country deserves. A HEROE'S welcome! Your politics doesn't matter. Whether you think our involvment in Iraq or Afganistan is justified. It makes no difference if you're Republican or Democrat. It simply doesn't matter! Their country called and they went to do whatever was asked of them. As someone said: (paraphrased) "These soldiers gave our government a blank check good for a value up to and including their lives." These folks are to be honored!! Gentlemen, and Ladies...THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, and for all that you do!!!

  • BubbaDuke Apr 12, 2010

    Thank you for serving your country. The military is about the only thing this government gets right - but our soldiers are the best!

  • native61 Apr 12, 2010

    Welcome home.

  • poohperson2000 Apr 12, 2010

    Bless these soldiers and their families for their sacrfices. Marriages and relationships have most likely been lost due to the stress of these soldiers deploying. The soldiers and families make extrodinary sacrafices suring times of deployment. Some strained relationships just cannot survive it.

  • Raptor06 Apr 12, 2010

    Welcome home fellow warriors!

  • Mr William Apr 12, 2010

    Wow, it was something to attend...so unlike my return from 'Nam 40 years ago. Many damp eyes in the place.

    Many thanks to the RBC staff that volunteered to work that day.

    Gov. Bev, Sen. Burr spoke.

    We pray they all come home soon.

  • K9Tucker.LoveMYcop Apr 12, 2010

    Welcome Home!

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Apr 12, 2010

    TO: 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team

    Thank you for your service and support for our country.

  • jenzinnia Apr 12, 2010

    I am so proud to be an American, and at the top of my pride is the right to worship our God, our Country, our Flag, and those that protect and serve those rights. Welcome home guys and gals. Thank you so much for your sacrifices...and especially to those that will not come home.

  • research9 Apr 12, 2010

    Welcome home! True heroes!