THOUSANDS of people gathered in bright sunshine today to say welcome home and applaud the Staffords as they marched through the county town.
More than 250 servicemen and women from the 3rd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, marched through Stafford town centre to mark their return home from Afghanistan.
The Staffords completed their second tour in Helmand Province earlier this year. It was their longest tour, with some of the troops spending up to nine months in Afghanistan.
And they brought some painful memories back with them - the Staffords lost Warrant Officer Ian Fisher during their latest tour of duty. The 42-year-old Staffordshire University graduate was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Helmand Province in November.
The Stafford parade featured the regimental band, and the Staffords' mascots Staffordshire bull terrier Corporal Watchman V and Swaledale ram Lance Corporal Derby, along with members of the Staffordshire Regimental Association. Former servicemen and women from all the Armed Forces turned out to watch the parade.
The salute was taken by the Mayor of Stafford, Councillor Ray Sutherland, while other guests included Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy, Stone MP Bill Cash, and members of the county and borough councils.