Dan Horn reports:
Dana Allen kept a log book filled with all the things her husband was missing.
Scores from their daughter’s soccer games. Highlights from birthday parties. Updates on their new baby’s ever-changing babbles and giggles.
She wrote down all the things her husband, Sgt. Jermaine Allen, couldn’t see or hear at home in Mason while he was off serving a four-month deployment in the Middle East with the Ohio Air National Guard.
“It was hard,” she said. “He was missing so much.”
Sgt. Allen’s family, along with dozens of others, was honored Sept. 23 with a “Hometown Heroes Salute” in Blue Ash. The ceremony at the University of Cincinnati branch campus was dedicated not only to the airmen who serve, but also to the children, spouses and employers who support them back home.
All of the airmen and family members receiving medals, flags and other honors were connected to the Guard’s 123rd Air Control Squadron, which is based in Blue Ash.
Several officers said the sacrifice of the families and employers who must cope with long deployments too often is overlooked.
“It’s not just the airmen, it’s the families and the employers that make this work,” said Brigadier General Mark Bartman, commander of the Ohio Air National Guard.
For Sgt. Allen, who was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and the United Arab Emirates this year, the most recent deployment was the most difficult. His wife had just given birth to their baby girl, Maya, who was born premature and spent seven weeks in the hospital.
Their other daughter, 10-year-old Destiny, had to help fill the void by becoming “Mom’s assistant.” Even with email, Skype and his wife’s log book to stay in touch, the months away were difficult.
“This one was a lot more challenging,” Sgt. Allen said. “Just being away from the family is the toughest thing.”
Destiny said the time away was hard for her and her mom, especially when her dad missed big events, like her 10th birthday. Still, she tried to remind herself her dad was doing an important job.
“I missed him all the time,” she said. “But he’s got to do what he’s got to do.”