Several 'send off' events being held for Lorain National Guard troops being deployed to Afghanistan

LORAIN, Ohio - LORAIN, Ohio - Despite news of a "draw back" in Afghanistan, about 100 members of the Lorain Army National Guard are being deployed to the war-torn country next week. It's cause for several community "send off" events being organized in the community and Wednesday night was the first.

Soldiers laughed alongside local veterans and danced to songs including "Gangnam Style" at a special send off celebration inside the VFW hall in Lorain. 

Captain Chad Apple told NewsChannel 5, "It's very overwhelming, the amount of support that we get here at the Lorain VFW and it's real nice."  Captain Apple is leading nearly 100 soldiers in a tour for "Operation Enduring Freedom," something these families first learned, about a year ago.

"It's like I want this week to go by really slow so he's here, and for this year to go by really fast," said Cindy Miller speaking to NewsChannel 5's Paul Kiska about her husband earlier Wednesday.

When Cindy Miller, a former Marine, found out her husband was being deployed to Afghanistan with dozens of other soldiers from the Lorain National Guard Armory, she reached out to veterans clubs in Lorain and the community responded in a big way.

The VFW Post 451 donated their hall, other groups donated food and everything else needed for a large send off party.

"It's important for them to know that the folks back home are with them, supportive of them …" said WWII veteran, Art Goodman.  Lorain's veterans got the opportunity to meet the young soldiers headed overseas, some for the first time. 

But when asked what you say to someone about to be deployed for the first time, Roger Child with the Lorain Veterans Council said, "There's not much to tell them." 

For Childs, it's more of what you can show them and veterans made that very clear, packing the VFW hall Wednesday night to show their support.

It was a chance to share in those precious moments, like when a young couple sitting down Wednesday laughed together, smiling at their newborn daughter.  Or when Miller and her husband gave one another a long hung, squeezing each other tight.

And then it was time for more fun as the DJ pumped up the volume!

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A yellow ribbon ceremony is being held for the troops Friday morning at Lorain County Community College as the soldiers head to the Middle East to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lorain residents will line the streets for the troops as they get a police escort from the armory on Grove Avenue to the airport at 1 p.m.

Anyone who would like to donate items, including personal hygiene items or hard candy, can do so at the Ohio National Guard Armory at 3520 Grove Ave. in Lorain.

Here's a list (.pdf) of the most needed/popular items on the care package list: http://5.wews.com/h4K6q

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