Valdosta Remembers Fallen Soldiers

While Valdosta mourns the losses, it's also publicly supporting those fighting overseas, support that means so much to those left behind.

Heidi Shelley still can't believe he won't be coming home, a father of three, a loving husband and a hero to many.

Heidi says, "My husband was exactly what everyone would want in man."

SPC Ronnie Shelley is just one of 11 soldiers from the National Guard's 48th Brigade killed in Iraq. He and his best friend John Frank Thomas, also of Valdosta, lost their lives fighting overseas.

Shelley says, "I’m so proud of my husband and I'm so proud of John Thomas."

Yellow ribbons and memorial wreaths serve as symbols of this community's commitment to support its deployed troops and to honor those who have lost their lives, tragic losses that have brought members of this community together to honor some true hometown heroes.

City leaders say the yellow bows will not be untied until the remaining soldiers from the 48th Brigade come home.

Arthur McLane, Chief Judge of the Southern Circuit, says, "My heart goes out to the families that have lost loved ones. These are certainly terrible tragedies. Our hearts ache for the people who are the victims in those families."

But this community won't let their lives be forgotten.

Bruce Sumner says, "The least I can do is help support the people who show their patriotism, show their concern for the troops, I think the yellow ribbon campaign will be great if we can get them on every street corner and every sign in town."

It’s a heartfelt challenge folks in Valdosta and Lowndes County are more than ready to take on.

Gov. Sonny Perdue announced a statewide day of prayer and a moment of silence Thursday to honor members of the 48th Brigade in their time of loss.