BROOK PARK, Ohio (WOIO) - Nearly 580 members of the Ohio National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment, headquartered in Stow, Ohio, are back home after more than a yearlong deployment to the Middle East.
It was part of Operation Spartan Shield, and the Ohio group helped make up 4,200 National Guard members from four states – all part of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team.
Loved ones and friends waited with anticipation as the group unboarded a plane in Cleveland and were then driven by five busses to the I-X Center in Cleveland.
Teresa Casto of Louisville, Ohio, near Canton, even wore her sequined superhero shoes to welcome home her superhero son. “I have not seen my son for 390 days. I cannot wait. I’m so proud. I’m just full of so many emotions today,” Casto said.
The families waiting by their cars, honked their horns in unison and cheered as the busses carrying the Ohio National Guard troops arrived to deliver the troops back into the waiting arms of everyone they love.
Captain William Olmstead is from Cleveland, “It’s pretty surreal right now. It’s almost 13 months to the day since I left here.” Staff Sergeant Joseph Fought of Amherst greeted his wife with the most romantic of kisses while dipping her as if they were dancing.
These Citizen-Soldiers say they are ecstatic to be home, but admit home is now a far different place than when they left due to the coronavirus, economic conditions, and protests.
“I think you got a lot of soldiers that are a little hesitant coming back to a completely different world than when we left. It’s been weird to come back to wear a mask everywhere we go,” Staff Sergeant Fought said.
For Devon Gresham of Cleveland, family is everything and that includes the face of his baby son Dallas who he hasn’t held since he was born, “I came home for the birth of him, but I left two weeks later. You know, I missed him more than anything.”
And as for Teresa Casto, the wait is over. Her son, Special Joseph Casto is safe and back where he belongs. “Oh my God. I’m so proud of you,” Casto said as she burst into tears and kissed her son on the cheek.
The regiment is returning home in small groups at different times.