CORUNNA — Ceremonial remarks were kept to a minimum Thursday at Corunna High School so the soldiers from the Michigan Army National Guard’s 46th Military Police Company could be reunited with the loved ones who waited eagerly in the gym bleachers.
The 150-member unit, based at the Corunna Readiness Center, had landed in Lansing at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday and was immediately transported to the school for a hero’s welcome, featuring music, colorful signs and a big thank-you from their commanding officers.
After being deployed for 10 months to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training and then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the men and women were home again.
“Thank you for what you’ve done and welcome home,” Brig. Gen. Lawrence Schloegl told the men and women, who stood in formation before him. “Your families welcome you home, too. You guys did great work.”
The 46th MP Company’s job was to support U.S. military operations at Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. base that holds prisoners who were captured in the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Unit members served in various roles, including ensuring the security and serviceability of Army facilities, responding to safety calls, overseeing the movement of detainees to and from legal and medical appointments, and guarding the major access point to the base.
The 46th MP Company drew special praise for catching 99.9 percent of the contraband prisoners and others attempted to smuggle into the base.
“They distinguished themselves with their service down in Guantanamo Bay doing detainee operations, and we’re just happy to have them back,” said Lt. Col. Russ Harden, commander of the 210th Military Police Battalion, which includes the 46th MP Company “The ceremony is going to be quick so we can get them back with their families.”
The community pitched in to make the event special. Corunna Public Schools officials hosted the welcome home festivities, just as they previously hosted the deployment ceremony April 2, 2019.
A huge American flag hung over Comstock Street and greeted arriving soldiers and attendees, compliments of the Corunna Fire Department.
Families clustered together in the bleachers, waiting to hear the magic words “mission complete — dismissed,” which released the soldiers to join them.
Ten-month-old William Garvie of Beaverton sported a T-shirt reading “Not as tiny as I used to be, come and kiss your mini-me.” He was born 12 hours before his father, Spc. Richard Garvie, was deployed last spring.
As soon as he was released, Garvie made his way over to his family, holding William and his older son in his arms as he stood surrounded by his parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins.
“It feels nice, refreshing, to be back. I’m so happy to see my kids again,” said Garvie, adding that the best part of the deployment was the weather.
Before the ceremony, members of the Wieland family from Bay City talked about how eager they were to be reunited with Spc. Emily Wieland. Her parents, Joe and Tara Wieland, siblings Ashley Overly and Parker Wieland, and infant niece Ronnie Overly all attended.
“We got to see Emily when they had a mid-deployment leave for a week,” said Tara Wieland, holding a welcome home sign. “That helped a little, but we want her home.”
The ceremony kicked off with the soldiers filing into the gymnasium as the crowd applauded and cheered, and included a live rendition of the national anthem and a prayer.
At the end, an officer said: “You guys killed it out there. Time to go home.”
The 46th MP Company, previously based in Cheboygan, was redeployed to Corunna in June 2016. It took the place of the 144th Military Company, which had been based in Owosso and Corunna since 1968. The 144th was deployed to Nebraska, with some of its soldiers joining the new unit in Corunna.