CLAY NATIONAL GUARD CENTER, Marietta, Georgia, June 05, 2013, By SGT Lisa Kennedy – After meeting a caravan and the Barrow County Sheriff’s Department in Augusta, Army Specialist Samuel Walley was escorted by motorcade from I-20 all the way on Highway 11 to his hometown of Winder, Georgia. A police escort and motorcycles also accompanied the procession. Area supporters and well-wishers lined the streets in every town they passed through, waving American flags and holding signs.
The Georgia State Defense Force, Third Battalion/First Brigade, provided assistance to the City of Auburn Police Department, who organized the event, for the welcome home celebration of the 20-year old soldier on 30 May 2013. Area Control Points were identified and manned by soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, GSDF, throughout the duration of the ceremony. “It was an honor to participate in the welcome home of SPC Walley,” said Command Sergeant Major Ron Simmons of the 3rd Battalion, who presented the soldier with a Third Battalion Challenge Coin.
Walley, a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, has been at Walter Reed Hospital after being severely wounded June 6th, 2012, when an IED exploded while he was in Afghanistan. He lost part of his right leg and part of his left arm, but not his determination. After further recovery, Walley plans to reenlist in the Army at Fort Benning and serve as a firearms instructor.
AmVets and Home Depot teamed up to remodel the basement in the Walley house to fit Sam’s specific needs. After learning that Sam had no belongings to furnish the new space, the Third Battalion jumped in and collected furnishings for the new apartment, as well as monetary donations for any other necessities that Walley may need. Battalion Chaplain, Lt. Tony Pursser, acted as liason between the Walley family and the Third BN and was instrumental in bringing the needed items together in preparation for the homecoming.
Along with the the 3rd were hundreds of supporters including family, residents, friends, members of theAMVETS Riders Chapter 12, Military Order of the Purple Heart, numerous county police and EMS departments, Georgia State Patrol, Patriot Freedom Riders on hand to celebrate the return home of SPC Walley. “If it would have been one person on the side of the street with a flag–that would’ve made my day. The fact that there’s this many people, I didn’t expect this,” Walley said.
SPC Walley wears a memorial bracelet on his right wrist honoring a friend he had lost in battle a year ago to the day. After exiting the vehicle and standing firmly on home soil, he said, looking skyward, “this is for him.”