OUS to help welcome home troops

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

Thank you and welcome home.

The message will be clear next week when the soldiers of the Ohio Army National Guard's 216th Engineer Battalion return from a year's deployment in Iraq. Ohio University Southern wants to provide the microphone

The university will host a public meeting at 2 p.m. today in Bowman Auditorium to help individuals and groups organize a celebration. The soldiers of the 216th's Portsmouth-based Co. B and its subgroup Det. 1 from Ironton return Friday.

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Shawnee State University plans to have a special ceremony tentatively set for 2 p.m. Friday.

OUS wants to do its part, too.

"It will be similar to the send-off we had. We want to make our facilities available because we feel that they are all a part of our community," said Dr. Dan Evans, dean of OUS. "Anything we can do to show our appreciation to the soldiers, we want to do that."

Like the soldiers under his command in the 216th, Lt. Col. Scott Evans can't wait to come home. He also can't wait to tell everyone about the quality of Ohio's soldiers.

"I can already tell you though that I am most proud of the great Americans that I came here with. This entire

experience has been an amazing validation of the citizen-soldier concept envisioned by our founding fathers over 200 years ago," Evans wrote in an e-mail.

"Who could have imagined that a battalion of part-time soldiers, mainly from southern Ohio, would have such a profound impact serving with the best of our nation's military half a world from home? The men and women of the 216th are true heroes who have earned my total respect."