FOLEY – Foley National Guard veterans thanked city officials and residents for their support in the past and present in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the unit’s deployment to Iraq.

Veterans who were members of Company C of the National Guard 711 Signal Battalion, which is based in Foley, presented the City Council with a plaque recognizing the city’s support.

Before the unit went to Iraq in 2004, the city of Foley and Riviera Utilities helped prepare vehicles and provided other assistance. The city was also a sponsor of the company’s 20-year reunion held in January at the new Foley National Guard armory.

Vernon Heard Jr. a retired first sergeant from the unit, said veterans wanted to thank the city for continued support.

“We deployed in January 2004,” Heard told council members. “It’s been 20 years since we’ve been deployed and we want to thank the mayor and everybody for their support and for the reunion. We had a great reunion and we enjoyed it and thank you all for your generosity.”

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said Foley has always been a great supporter of the military. The city was recently recognized by the National Park Service as the American World War II Heritage City for Alabama in commemoration of the community’s support for the military in the past and present.

“We want to continue to make sure that we serve this nation by supporting the military and particularly our veterans,” Hellmich said. “It was most appreciated when you guys went over. I know everybody’s prayers were with y’all. Fortunately, everybody got to come back safe. So thank you all for what you did and the time that you gave because I believe a lot of y’all served many years in the National Guard and in the active military.”

In 2004, 122 members of the Foley unit were deployed to Iraq in January 2004 and all returned safely in February 2005.