Local troops still returning from overseas

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Troops returning from duty overseas this month includes a couple of Marshall County men, according to friends and family reporting on happy reunions.

Tennessee Army National Guard Sgt. Jared McKnight of Lewisburg, son of County Commissioner Larry McKnight, a retired National Guard colonel and executive director of the Tennessee National Guard Association, was met Sunday in Smyrna with other soldiers of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Jared McKnight's wife, Tessa, and daughter Gillian excitedly awaited his arrival. He was among 3,400 soldiers of the 278th who were mobilized in December 2009, and now they are coming home from Iraq six months earlier than expected. Units began returning in mid-June and have continued each week.

Also arriving back stateside is Michael Shane Helms, 25, grandson of Gene Helms, 78, of Chapel Hill.

"I talked him into going in when he finished high school," the proud grandfather said of the man who's now a 2nd class petty officer with the Navy Seabees.

His return is from Afghanistan.

The Forrest High School graduate is married to Erica Helms, a Naval reservist, the grandfather said. They met while they were both in boot camp.

Michael Shane Helms called his grandfather last week to report he was scheduled to land in Mississippi on Tuesday and that he anticipated being back in Chapel Hill on or about Aug. 15.

The petty officer led a construction crew of 12-13 Seabees, Gene Helms said. His grandson is believed to be home for a number of weeks before he's shipped out to Japan.