Region 8 Families Ready for 875th Troop Return

September 22, 2007 - Posted at 4:49 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- We know that the troops are excited to be coming home, but one thing is for certain...their families are counting down the minutes until they are back here in Region 8!

For the last year loved ones have waited patiently and sat by in support for the troop's return and as the big moment draws closer, preps to welcome them home are coming together.

Family members of the 875th Readiness Group have been at Northeast Arkansas District Fair all week selling t-shirts and taking donations to get ready for the big welcome back.

The yellow shirt is one of the top selling items in Region 8 right now and it represents a moment families can't wait for.

"It's been a long time, this last year has been a long, tough one," said Pam Duboise as she counted change while selling the t-shirts.

A sentiment summed up by most families left waiting...ready to celebrate a return.

"I can't wait," said Duboise whose husband is serving, "I told some of them when I see a phone number show up on my phone that's his cell number...yeah, that's when it's going to hit really."

"I don't think it's really hit home until we know that they are in the states and they call us and say we are in the's exciting and overwhelming. I know my children are ready for their dad to come home," said soldier's wife Becky Goza.

Saturday may be the last opportunity to purchase a t-shirt at the Northeast Arkansas District Fair but when troops come home next week, it will be their first chance to know that they are back home in Region 8.

"It seems like every night we sell more t-shirts, people are just buying them up we order t-shirts every day because they want to be there. We want to be there for the boys and that's great," said Mark Gragg whose son is serving.

And whether the troops see yellow t-shirts or welcome won't take long to know they're home.

"I've done warned him, he better be ready because I'm going to run and jump in his arms," laughed Duboise.

"They are ready to come home; they are ready for a break. There is a purpose, there is a reason but we're happy for him, we're ready for him to come home. He's got some Dallas Cowboy tickets and he's ready to go to a game," smiled Gragg.

There are a lot of activities planned for the troops when they get back.  On October 12th a special ceremony will be held to retire specialist Erich Smallwood's football jersey at the Trumann High School.  He was killed in May after an explosive device detonated near his Humvee.