Columbia honors veterans in welcome home troops event

Saturday, April 28, 2012 | 8:04 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Despite the afternoon rain, dozens of people showed up at the Boone County Courthouse to honor the troops on Saturday.

Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid gave the welcome speech and David Troyer, a WWII Exercise Tiger survivor, laid awreath at the war memorial.

The event commemorated the 68th anniversary of World War II's Exercise Tiger and also welcomed home troops deployed to Iraq from the 103rd Sustainment Command and Missouri Guard. This was the second welcome home event for troops held in Missouri.

"When we came home from Vietnam, we really had a hard way to go," said retired Sergeant First Class Don Briggs, the commander of the VFW Post 280, who served in the Vietnam War. "We would've liked to have somebody to do this for us, that's why we do this for them." 

"We want these guys to know we really appreciate what they did," he said.

Beverly Forderhase, who accompanied her Vietnam War veteran friend to the event, said she wants to honor the soldiers who serve the country.

"We wouldn't be standing here on this day if there are no troops protecting our country," she said. "I think it's important that we let them know we appreciate their sacrifice."

Diana Geiger from Holts Summit said she attended the event because her grandson, 6-year-old Payton Geiger, who was wearing camouflage, really looks up to veterans.

"I want to be just like this," Payton said.

Geiger said they came to honor and support the veterans for what they have done for the country.

A formal ceremony was held at VFW Post 280 and the 312th Army Band Super Hipnotic Ensemble performed a concert after the ceremony.

St. Louis hosted a welcome-home parade for Iraq War veterans in January, which was the first official welcome home of deployed troops  in the country, and tens of thousands of people gathered to celebrate the event.

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