Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, recently announced that the state’s largest Army National Guard unit, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, will be returning from Iraq earlier than scheduled. 

The first units of the regiment, approximately 250 Soldiers from armories in Maryville, McKenzie and Henderson, arrived in two flights at the Volunteer Training Site-Smyrna on Wednesday, June 16.

Milan’s Troop C, returned to Tennessee on Monday, June 21. The approximately 125 Guardsmen comprising the West Tennessee unit, arrived by two C-130 aircrafts at the Guard’s Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna.

“In order to meet the National Command Authority’s timeline of less than 50,000 combat troops in Iraq after August 31, 2010, Soldiers of the 278th have begun leaving their Iraqi bases and heading back to the United States,” Haston said. “We are extremely pleased to welcome these brave Soldiers home earlier than planned.”

The return will be carried out in phases with the entire Regiment returning home over the next two to three months. The first Soldiers arrived at Camp Shelby, Miss., in mid-June for demobilization. The remaining troops will demobilize through Camp Shelby in groups through the end of August.

“We thank them for their service and we thank their families and employers for the outstanding support shown throughout this deployment,” Haston said. “The 278th continues the tradition of excellence shown by the nearly 20,000 Tennessee Soldiers and Airmen deployed since September 11, 2001, and the generations of Tennessee

Volunteers who served before them.”

The 278th mobilized in December 2009 for one year, with plans originally to return around December 2010.  After pre-mobilization training at Camp Shelby, the unit deployed to Iraq in February 2010.

The 278th is headquartered in Knoxville, and is composed of more than 3,400 Soldiers from across the Volunteer State, including local soldiers of the Lafayette Troop E ( - ) Support Squadron.

Additional arrival times will be announced as they become available.