MILAN - When Specialist Josh Summers started his deployment to Iraq 15 months ago, his son Brady was just 3 months old.
When he returned Saturday with 39 other members of the 192nd Quartermaster Company out of Milan, Summers met his son as an active, energetic toddler. His wife, Rachel, couldn't keep the tears out of her eyes as she greeted her husband with their son in her arms.
Those weren't the only tears of joy as approximately 250 people showed up at the unit's home station on Mason Road near Milan for the homecoming.
While family members waited for the returning soldiers, volunteers supplied regular updates on the location of the bus over an intercom.
"They're two miles from the exit," came one announcement. With the next announcement "They're at the exit," the garage door was lifted and the families streamed outside to line the driveway and get their first glimpse of the soldiers.
The Ohio Highway Patrol provided an escort and the first look for the soldiers on the bus was the rest of their reserve unit standing on both sides of the drive to welcome them home. Dozens of still and video cameras were recording the scene.
Family members were waving flags provided by the post and holding up homemade signs for the soldiers.
The Summers family alone had 19 people in the crowd.
Rachel Summers said her husband's deployment was "very difficult," but the support she received got her and Brady through the past 15 months.
"I couldn't have done it without my mom and everybody else who helped," she said. "We had a good support system."
Modern communications helped also. Josh Summers' parents, Cecil and Iola Summers, said the family used Web cams so they could get a look at each other once in a while and Josh was able to call home fairly often.
But that's not quite as good as getting a look in person.
Cecil Summers said they didn't know a lot of what Josh experienced in his deployment because experienced soldiers had advised them to keep him up to date on what was going on at home instead of asking about his service.
"They told us not to make him go through everything when he called home, but just give him news from home," he said, so they look forward to hearing more about his experiences.
"This is very emotional," said Iola Summers.
Her husband agreed.
"We've been looking forward to this for over a year," he said.
Josh and Rachel Summers live in Millersburg, where he serves as a police officer. His parents live in Wooster.
Soldiers in the 192nd Quartermaster Company come from across the state and also surrounding states. The reservists were sent to Iraq in two separate deployments and now all are back home. They do not have another deployment scheduled at this time.
The soldiers were responsible for getting fuel and supplies to 90,000 soldiers in Iraq. They were stationed at Camp Stryker in Baghdad.
They also helped in humanitarian missions such as giving out office products, building and school supplies to develop the infrastructure of Iraq that had been damaged in the conflict.
In a short ceremony, army officials reminded families that coming back home will require some adjustments for the soldiers after the lengthy deployment. After the families burst into applause and whistles to honor the soldiers several times, the men and women of the 192nd Quartermaster post honored their families with a standing ovation of their own.
After the ceremony, each of the citizen soldiers got back to the best duty they've had for 15 months family time.
wakeman wrote on Feb 4, 2008 3:08 PM:
" thanks you for all you do!!!!! "