Picayune Residents Give Guardsmen A Hero's Welcome

Folks in Picayune welcomed home the last member of the 890th Engineering Battalion Saturday.

While his unit returned home from Iraq in March, National Guard Specialist James Carl Sampson was recovering from serious injuries he suffered after an enemy roadside bomb exploded near Fallujah.

The city held an emotional homecoming celebration.

Friends, family and people who have never met Reservist James Carl Sampson lined Memorial Boulevard to welcome home a local war hero.

Flags, Signs , cheers and salutes greeted Sampson as he paraded by the crowds.

Karen Jones doesn't know Sampson but came out because she admires his courage.

"There over there doing what our Country asked them to do .Carl got hurt trying to protect people," Jones said.

Sampson lost part of his brain and his right eye when an enemy bomb exploded.

After 4 brain surgeries, months of rehabilitation, and a lot of prayers Sampson was able to return home.

"We got to give you the praise Lord because you brought Carl home to us," said National Guard Sergeant James Reeves.

" We look sometimes for heroes in the sporting arena's or on stage, screen or television . But my hero and Picayune's hero and the state of Mississippi and the United States of hero is to my right," said National Guard Adjutant General Harold Cross.

The home coming celebration that followed the parade gave local dignitaries a chance to thank Sampson for serving our country and a chance to shower him with commendations.

4th Congressional District Congressman Gene Taylor gave Sampson a metal of honor and a flag that once flew over the Capital.

"This is a flag that has flown over our nation's Capital if it's anyone in America who deserves the flag it's you God Bless you," said Taylor.

Overwhelmed by the show of support an emotional Sampson thanked those who came out to welcome him home.

"I feel privileged," said Sampson.

Privileged he says, for serving his country and for a community who cares.

Four other Guardsmen were injured in the blast that critically injured Sampson.

National Guard leaders also praised Sampson for rejoining the National Guard.

He had gotten out of the Guard before Operation Iraqi Freedom began but when he heard the 890th had been deployed he signed back up.