Clermont County Commissioners showed their support and appreciation to Marine Corps Lance Corporal Daniel Oelker, of Amelia, during their meeting on Wednesday, May 13. A certificate of appreciation was read by Commissioner Bob Proud during the ceremony.
“We thank you for your commitment and your service to our country,” said Proud.
Oelker is a 2006 Amelia High School graduate. He joined the Marine Corps before he began his senior year in high school and has served as a Marine Corps reservist for three years. His unit was recently called into active duty and will be deploying to Iraq within the next few months.
Dan Bare, director of the Veterans' Service Commission, presented Oelker a Challenge Coin on behalf of the service commission.
"I have a coin I would like to send with you to keep in your pocket while you are overseas as a remembrance that we care about you," said Bare. "When you return, I look forward to seeing you again. Come into my office and we'll sit down and talk about opportunities that are available to you."
Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg presented him with a certificate of appreciation and noted the marksmanship medals on Oelker's uniform.
"I notice that you are not only a rifle expert, but also a pistol expert," said Rodenberg. "That is the highest ranking you can get in target shooting. Take care of yourself while you are over there and if you or your family should need anything while you are there, please call."
Oelker noted that he has been trained as part of the military SWAT assault team or SRT (Special Reaction Team). He received his basic training at Parris Island, S.C. and will be going with his unit to Camp Lejeune, N.C. for further training before the unit is deployed to Iraq.
A representative from Congresswoman Jean Schmidt's office, Gertrud Whitaker, read a proclamation from Congress for Oelker. She noted the medals that he had already received during his service to the United States and his continued service to the country during a critical time.
When Oelker said when he decided to join the Marine Corps he asked for his parents blessing.
"We have three older sons and we didn't stand in the way of what they chose to do, so we gave him our blessing," said Vickie Oelker. "As long as he comes back to me, it's fine. He is trained well and he knows his job and will take pride in what he has to do. As any parent knows, there is a fear, but we believe in God and I know that I believe in my heart that when it's your time to go, you're going to go. It doesn't matter if you are walking across the street or fighting a war. I hope I can keep that outlook while he is gone."
Oelker's unit has not yet received their orders and haven't been told their mission at this time. They are expected to leave in August or September. While Oelker has not yet decided if he wants to make a career of the military, he is currently under a six-year contract and said he is enjoying his service.
"Becoming active duty you have to leave behind your regular lifestyle," said LCpl. Oelker. "As a reservist when it is time for our rotation, we are activated."
His mother noted that boot camp was very hard because she had no way to communicate with her son. She said that they are a very close family and communication is extremely important to them. With e-mail and easy access to phones, the family expects to stay in close contact with LCpl. Oelker while he is over seas making the separation easier.