Town turns out to welcome back troops

All Ohio Army National Guard units now back in state.

Lincoln, 6, and Isabella, 4, had not seen their mother in person since she was deployed to Afghanistan 11 months ago.

Garrison was among 260 Army National Guard soldiers who returned Saturday to a school auditorium filled with their loved ones, state officials, military personnel and members of the Patriot Guard.

“They grew up a lot. I missed birthdays and big events, first grade and basketball games, soccer games — but we’re home now,” Garrison said as she smiled at her children.

While deployed, the brigade supported Unified Land Operations in Joint Security Area-Georgia, Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic.

“We provided logistic support for Kuwait and a number of other countries in the region,” said Col. Gregory Robinette, brigade commander. “At one time we had soldiers in the region operating in eight different countries, including Kuwait and our mission was to provide support to the war-fighter.”

Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, a Springfield native, addressed the approximately 1,000 people who attended the ceremony and said the return of this unit means that for the first time since the Ohio Army National Guard began mobilizing for the war, all Ohio Army National Guard units are back in the state.

“We have another unit going out in about two months, but for this time we are celebrating having all of our soldiers back in Ohio,” Ashenhurst said.

Staff Sgt. Heather Clemens, a 2002 graduate of Kenton Ridge High School, said it was a great feeling to see her family, but that she cannot wait to go to her Columbus home and see her three little ones — cats Rogue, Storm and Mystique.

“I love the support of the town coming out; it’s amazing,” Clemens said.

Her mother Judy Clemens of Springfield said she was glad that her daughter, who was previously deployed to Iraq, made it back safe.

“As a mother there isn’t any time that you don’t think about them. What are they doing? Are they eating well? Are they cold? Are they happy? Just standard mom stuff,” she said.

Dennis and Marceda Ryan flew into Ohio from Florida to see his son Keith Ryan of Columbus.

“I’m very proud of him. Especially since this is the fourth time he’s endured this,” said Dennis Ryan. “For him to still have a positive attitude coming back that’s marvelous. Hopefully, it’s the last time.”

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