Local airmen return home from deployment

TOLEDO – Conor and Walker Evans have their daddy back home to play Wii sports with them, but Greta, Tommy
and Wyatt Dauer will have to wait a few weeks longer.
Thursday afternoon the final four airmen with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Security Forces
Squadron, of the Toledo Air National Guard Base, arrived home from a six-month deployment in Saudi
Arabia. According to Capt. Katherine Cherolis, about 30 airmen were in Arabia in support of Operation
Enduring Freedom. The majority of airmen returned in late May, while these last four who returned were
the command group.
After hugs and kisses from family members who greeted the men as they entered Toledo Express Airport,
they were cheered by about 50 people who had gathered in the ground-level lobby, including other airmen
and support staff from the 180th, friends and veterans.
Master Sgt. Eric Evans of Grand Rapids and Master Sgt. Joel Dauer of Bowling Green were among the four.
They were joined by Sr. Master Sgt. John Pohlman of Ohio and Lt. Col. Steven Agard, commander of
Security Forces, who is from Michigan.
Evans, with 25 years in the military, said he missed "just being home with family and friends,"
and agreed to do whatever his sons, Conor, 9, and Walker, 5, wanted to do. As the boys stayed close to
their father, he offered to play games with them, go fishing, go for a walk in the woods or get out
their boat. He said he looked forward most to steak on the grill.
Conor remembers well the date his dad left for Saudi Arabia, Nov. 28, because it was also his 9th
birthday. "It was hard," he said of that day, but Thursday was "good" because his
father was home. And the first thing he wanted to do with him was "play the Wii, probably Wii
sports."
Walker said he wanted to play Playstation 2. But if his dad couldn’t join in, "he can watch us all
play."
Their mother, Jennifer Evans, said Conor had a hard time with his father’s absence but it "didn’t
really phase (Walker) too much because of his age. He’s only 5." She said two months ago he
realized daddy had been gone awhile and began to ask questions about when he’d come home. Evans noted
December, especially Christmas, was hard on her family, especially Conor, but "once he got started
with basketball and baseball, it took his mind off it."
During her husband’s deployment, Jennifer Evans served as a volunteer Family Readiness group leader for
Security Forces, keeping in contact with the other families throughout the entire deployment.
Master Sgt. Joel Dauer was met by his parents, Joyce and Dick Dauer of Bowling Green, and siblings Jodi
Dauer of Wayne, and Jeff of rural Bowling Green, but his wife and three children missed the homecoming
hoopla. The four, Becky Dauer and twins Greta and Tommy, 10, and Wyatt, 7, were home in Spokane, Wash.,
where they moved last August.
Joyce Dauer explained her son and his wife met in the Air Force. Becky Dauer completes technical school
today and graduates with another stripe.
This latest deployment to Saudi Arabia was at least Dauer’s fifth, following Afghanistan and Iraq, among
others.
"We lost track," admitted Jodi Dauer. Her brother has been in the service for 23 years and
works full time on base since losing his previous civilian job.
The master sergeant said he missed his family while deployed and looked forward most to his mother’s
cooking. "Anything," he said of the meal choice. He will spend a short time with his parents
and siblings, then head to Spokane to join his family. Two items are at the top of his list, house
hunting, and a weekend trip to Seattle to catch a Mariners’ baseball game.
Joining in the celebration were Linda and Sam Compton of Wayne. He is a veteran and member of VFW Post
7424. While they travel to the airport for other soldier homecomings, Dauer’s return especially pleased
them. Jodi Dauer is their neighbor who has kept them informed of her brother’s deployment, and they stay
in touch with Dauer’s wife and children.