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Big Concord homecoming planned Saturday for wounded Spc. Jeffries

A 389-mile escort Saturday by the Patriot Guard Riders will accompany Army Specialist Tyler “T.J.” Jeffries from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to a homecoming in Concord.

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett will proclaim Saturday Tyler Jeffries Day in the city. A welcome-home reception will take place on Jeffries’ arrival Saturday afternoon at Crosspointe Baptist Church, 1175 Crosspointe Drive, Concord.

The public is being invited to attend and line the entrance road to the church — Dickens Place NE — with flags and signs welcoming the soldier, who has been recovering at Walter Reed. He is expected to arrive between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

Many people also are expected to watch the motorcycle escort from interstate overpasses along the trip home.

Jeffries lost both of his legs Oct. 6 while on an explosives-clearing mission in Afghanistan.

His mother, Pam Britt, works for a vendor of Delhaize America and is based out of the Food Lion headquarters in Salisbury.

Through support of her company and its coworkers, Britt has been able to be with Jeffries in Maryland since his arrival at Walter Reed.

A native of Lake City, Fla., and a graduate of Zephyrhills High School, Jeffries moved to Concord about five years ago and joined the Army in January 2010. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April of this year.

On Oct. 6, his team had nearly completed a mission to clear explosives in a deserted village when he was injured by a non-detectable, command-wire IED (improvised explosive device).

The Patriot Guard Riders’ itinerary has the escort leaving Walter Reed at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, with seven staging areas in Virginia and six in North Carolina, including the final church destination.

Keith “Bypass Biker” Arbuckle will be ride captain in charge for the N.C. leg of the journey.

In Rowan County, the escort will have rolling-merge stops to pick up other riders at Long Ferry Road, Exit 81, of Interstate 85, in Spencer and at Exit 71, Peeler Road, Salisbury.

The escort gets off I-85 and heads for the church at Exit 60, Dale Earnhardt Boulevard.

Established in 2005, Patriot Guard Riders is a voluntary honor guard that attends the funerals of U.S. Armed Forces members, law enforcement and firefighters, if invited by the deceased’s family. The Riders also greet troops returning from overseas and provides escorts such as the one Saturday.

Membership nationally in the group is approaching 250,000 individuals, whose mission statement says they are a group with “an unwavering respect for those who risk their lives for America’s freedom and security.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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