Anna Duncan, Tara Bohanan and Kristen Gee pose with two of the designs McEver offered as part of the welcome home for Dawson County resident Adam Stahlbusch.
Welcome home, SSG Adam Stahlbusch
PHOTOS COURTESTY OF REBEKAH STAHLBUSCH
A Dawson County veteran received an unexpected welcome from family and community.
U.S. Army SSG Adam Stahlbusch returned home from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan October 11. His ride along Hwy. 53 would have been uneventful if it were not for the signs, banners and messages of “Welcome Home” that dotted lawns, grassy areas and business marquees.
Born and raised in Dawson County, Stahlbusch graduated from Dawson County High School in 2010. He joined the Army in 2012 and was deployed to Afghanistan in December 2019 where he was Infantry.
His sister, Rebekah, and mother, Deborah Morgan went online and asked if there were any members of the Facebook group “Focus on Dawson” who would be willing to post a sign welcoming the veteran home.
The idea “turned out to be huge,” according to Rebekah. “I was blown away by how supportive and how much the community really cares. I thought maybe the Pool Room and Dairy Queen would do something on their signs, maybe just two or three signs.”
Stahlbusch poses in front of the Dawsonville Chick-fil-A marquee, one of numerous businesses that helped welcome him home from his deployment to Afghanistan.
Amicalola Propane and Chick-fil-A used their marquees. Etowah Water and Sewer, RaceTrac and Starbucks had custom-made signs.
“It was heartwarming to see how much the community cared.”
Messages were homemade, on business marquees, and professionally made; they were all made with pride and appreciation. They started popping up October 4 and are to remain up for about a week or so.
Stalhbusch reached out to Carter McEver of McEver signs and production of 80 signs began.
“Our in-house designer designed two and I designed one of them,” McEver said.
Some signs personalized for Stahlbusch and another design can be re-used for future returning military personnel.
“We produced and sold them at our production cost to honor his service,” McEver said. “It was inspiring to see how many people in the community displayed signs and banners around the county. Dawson County is truly a patriotic community.”
A customer bought 30 and sold them for cost to others who wanted to support the welcoming effort, but were unable to get to McEver.
Rebekah said the plan was to line Hwy. 53, Dawson Forest Road and GA. 400 with signs. But signage was everywhere.
“I wanted to do something he’d never forget,” Rebekah said. “I had no clue that it would develop into such a big thing.”
As for her brother’s reaction, Rebekah said he was “blown away.”
“It took him about a day to digest it all,” she said. “When he was deployed, he knew he was fighting for his family and his life. This just put it all in perspective. Girl Scouts made signs for his neighborhood and placed yellow ribbons. Seeing how much everyone supports him. He was fighting for all these other people, too. It put it all in perspective for him.”
With all the signs, “it looks like I’m running for mayor,” Stahlbusch said.
Most signs have been removed. Rebekah went back to “Focus on Dawson” to express her appreciation. “Thank you so much Dawson County for supporting SSG Stahlbusch, Adam! You all have really made his homecoming something very special that he will never forget now. He said “seeing Dawson County show this much support just for him reminded him that he fought not just for his own life and family but for all these other peoples too”. What a blessing you all have been.”
While overseas, Stahlbusch received word that his beloved Rottweiler, Romeo had passed and a serious relationship had ended.
“I knew this would mean a lot to my brother coming from a nine-month tour and counting down every single day until he could come home again,” she said. “Thank you, community! I love that I get to call this place my home!
Morgan said she wants to make sure “nobody comes home without one” and is hoping to keep the fanfare when other members of the military return.
She encouraged people to keep their signs and use them again for the next soldier returning home to Dawson County, adding that one of the McEver- designed signs can be modified simply with a new name strip.
Meanwhile, Stalhbusch is currently taking time to enjoy some hunting and fishing before finishing his 6-month commitment to the military. He is one of the 2,000 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan with the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade who returned home this past summer.
Now in its 18th year, the fight in Afghanistan—the longest war in American history—has claimed the lives of 2,426 U.S. troops. The 48th lost 10 combat and noncombat casualties during its deployment in Afghanistan.