Emotions were running high as Clermont County welcomed home one of its own American soldiers after a one-year tour of duty in Iraq.
The welcome home party for Major Boudine Donohoo, which took place at the Blue Ribbon Restaurant on the Clermont County Fairgrounds Aug. 6, was a way for his family, friends, and loved ones to welcome him home from Iraq and thank him for the sacrifices he has made over the past year.
“It feels great to be home,” Donohoo said. “Everyone’s love and support back here at home is what keeps all of the American soldiers’s spirits up, especially during the dark times.”
Donohoo, who is in the U.S. Army Reserves, was called up, activated, and deployed to Iraq in July 2005. He was stationed in Tall ‘Afar (northwestern Iraq, 70 miles from the Syrian border) and has spent the last year embedded with Iraqi troops.
“Our mission was an unconventional one. I was on a ten-man mid-team, which is a military transition team. My primary job was to advise the Iraqi battalion commanders on the ground. We were embedded with the Iraqi troops, we slept with them, we ate with them, and we lived with them.”
“We helped them plan missions by showing them the American military planning process. We would then go on the mission with them, be there for them, with them, and leading by example.”
According to Donohoo, leading by example was probably one of the most important aspects of their mission.
“Most of the Iraqi soldiers that we lived with were in Saddam Hussein’s military guard. The culture of corruption that the world has seen in Iraq is very much a reality. We tried to lead by example to show those soldiers that you must have values. We tried to teach them more effective means. Training a foreign army to take over the security of their own country is difficult and scary thing, but that is what we were doing and what we (American troops) will continue to do.”
Donohoo, who was awarded a bronze star medal and was promoted to the rank of Major while in Iraq, was adopted (along with his team) by students of the St. Louis School in Owensville last Christmas.
“That was wonderful,” he said. “The letters and the care packages (they received countless jars of peanut butter and jelly) made us feel like heroes and provided much needed inspiration and motivation. It meant so much to all of us knowing that people were remembering us and supporting us. When you are over there, getting something from home means everything.”
Major Donohoo, who was raised in Owensville, is a 1978 graduate from Clermont Northeastern High School. He completed a B.S. in chemistry and biology from Xavier University in 1993 and enlisted in the Army reserves shortly after graduation. He resides in Cartersville, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta) with Sherry, his wife of 15 years, and their four children, Brittany, Megan, Kaitlyn, and Gavin.
His welcome home party was attended by approximately 70 people.
“Having him here today, home and safe, is such a relief,” said wife Sherry. “It has been a tough year, but he is finally home. I am very happy.”
It was laughter through tears as Major Donohoo gazed on lovingly and amusedly while his mother, Phyllis Allen, read a poem she had written about Boudine’s childhood and past.
The party included a question and answer period for those assembled. Major Donohoo also read a letter that he had written thanking everyone for their support and presented a slide presentation of photos that he had taken of his experiences in Iraq.
“I want everyone to know that my experience in Iraq was a positive one. The average person over there is just like we are. They are a loving, friendly, and giving people who care about family; they cherish the same things that we do,” he said. “Although my impression is that we will not see a massive withdrawal of American troops anytime soon, the Iraqis I met do not hate Americans. They are a forgiving people. They want peace and they want to live in freedom. Like all the peoples of the world, they have their shortcomings, but they only lack the leadership to end the cycle of corruption and realize their full potential.”
Only history will show whether or not Operation Iraqi Freedom will be successful, but according to Major Donohoo’s grandfather Floyd Allen, as long as America has courageous soldiers like Boudine, Iraq and America remain, for the time being anyway, in good hands.
“Our prayers have been answered,” said Floyd Allen, with tears in his eyes. “This is a day of celebration. Words cannot express how good it is to have my grandson home.”