Officials Near Goal Of Bringing Guard Troops Home For Holiday

Thursday, December 6th 2007, 2:39 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The Oklahoma American Legion says the money needed to bring home some 2,600 Oklahoma National Guard troops for the holiday has been collected.

Legion spokesman Michael Taylor says a $20,000 check from Wal-Mart lifted the fundraising to what's needed to pay for the trip.

The soldiers with the 45th Infantry Brigade are currently training at Fort Bliss, Texas, for duty in Iraq. They're being given a 10-day break for the holiday but must arrange their own transportation.

Governor Henry announced plans last month to raise $600,000 to rent buses and buy gas and food for the trip to and from Fort Bliss. But 34 buses are being donated as is the gas and food meaning less than $250,000 was needed.

Buses are being donated by the Chickasaw, Creek and Choctaw nations, Oklahoma State University at Tulsa, Skiatook Public Schools and the charter bus service Time Lines.

Love's Travel Stops will provide fuel while Fort Bliss will provide food for the trip to Oklahoma and DHS LLC of Killeen, Texas, is providing food for the trip back to Texas.

The troops are to begin arriving in Tulsa, McAlester and Oklahoma City on December 23 and will return to Fort Bliss January 2.