Heartfelt sendoff

SANDUSKY The battles may be fought in Iraq, but the effects of the war are being felt at home.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The battles may be fought in Iraq, but the effects of the war are being felt at home.

Family and friends gathered Thursday afternoon at the Sandusky State Theatre for a mobilization ceremony as the local Ohio National Guard unit prepares for deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Delta Company 1-148 infantry will leave the icy winter of northern Ohio on Saturday morning and fly to the sands of Kuwait as part of the largest mobilization of the Ohio National Guard since World War II.

"We are on our way to do the job that many will not," said Captain Michael Wood, commander of the 1-148th infantry. "We will get through this deployment and we will return home. Keep us in your prayers."

Also speaking at the ceremony were Major General Gregory Wayt, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, Erie County Commissioners Tom Ferrell, Nancy McKeen and Bill Monaghan, Sandusky City Commissioner Dan Kaman, Perkins Township Trustee Tim Coleman and representatives for Gov. Ted Strickland and Senator George Voinovich.

To the melody of the official Army song, "The Army Goes Rolling Along," the soldiers left the auditorium the same way they entered -- together and surrounded by family and friends.

"I'm scared but excited," said Brandon Urso, 21, a 2005 graduate of Perkins High School. Amidst the noise of soldiers, their family and friends, Urso paused to give a kiss to his fiance, Christen Carper.

Urso joined the Ohio National Guard in March of last year and proposed to Carper, 20, of Ashland on Sweetest Day.

"I'm kind of getting used to (being apart), but it's hard," Carper said.

Robert Rieger, 23, of Sandusky is also preparing for his first overseas deployment.

"I'm a little bit nervous and anxious -- just ready to go over and get it over with," Rieger said.

Rieger said he will be able to keep in touch with his wife, Valerie, 22, while serving in Kuwait but doesn't know yet if he'll be home in time for Christmas.

On Saturday morning, the American Legion Post 83, Legion Auxiliary and Legion Riders will host a send-off for Delta Company. They welcome the public to come to the Legion, 3615 Hayes Ave., and wish the troops good luck as they begin their trip to the Middle East. The troops will begin arriving at the post around 9 a.m.; their buses are scheduled to leave at noon.

"We want to send them off with a cheer and then get them back here safe," said Jim Gallagher, second vice commander of the American Legion Post 83.

Escorted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, American Legion Riders, the Patriot Guard and U.S. Military Vets, the troops' buses will travel south on Ohio 4, then take the turnpike to Toledo.

From Toledo, Delta Company will fly to Fort Hood, Texas, and then to the Middle East.

Gallagher said while the troops are gone the Legion will try to support their families and loved ones in any way they can.

"That's what the American Legion is all about," he said. "We know what they're going through."