The servicemen included Chaplain Lt. Colonel Jess Abbott of the U.S. Army Reserve, Specialist Kyle Schumacher of the U.S. Army, Airman 1st Class Joshua Royer of the U.S. Air Force, Lt. Colonel Jonathan Royer of the U.S. Air Force and Corporal Colten Neu of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Each serviceman returned from a different location in Iraq and also Afghanistan, and each was able to return to the states before the holiday season.
Father and son Jonathan and Joshua Royer both returned safe from separate locations in Iraq before Christmas, which made it extra-special for their family.
“It was a really nice feeling to get everyone home for the holidays,” Jonathan Royer said.
Jonathan Royer, who graduated from New Richmond High School and lives in Pierce Township, has had five deployments since Sept. 11. He will be heading back to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton after his break.
It was Joshua Royer’s first deployment and he said it is good to be back home. The Clermont Northeastern graduate said he received support from home when he was in Iraq, and was even able to see his dad on a couple of occasions. He said he also knew when his dad was leaving Iraq.
“It was good knowing he was safe and getting to go home,” Joshua Royer said.
Specialist Kyle Schumacher, also a Clermont Northeastern graduate, returned to the states in December from his first deployment, Operation New Dawn, in Iraq.
“It didn’t feel real,” Schumacher said about returning home. “You spend so much time over there you get into a routine.”
He said he will be returning to Fort Campbell Army Base in Kentucky after his break.
Colten Neu, a Glen Este graduate, was the only Marine at the ceremony and the only one to return from a country other than Iraq.
Neu returned from his second deployment to Afghanistan where he spent his time working with the people of the country.
“It was great coming back and getting to spend time with my family during the holidays,” Neu said.
Neu returned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina the day before Thanksgiving.
“Out of all of my buddies, Clermont County is the only one I’ve heard of that does this,” Neu said about the ceremony.
He will return to Camp Lejeune until August, and then he said he will have to make a decision about what to do next. He said he is looking into becoming a U.S. Coast Guard.
Jess Abbott also returned from his second deployment and was able to make it home from Iraq just before Christmas.
Abbott was deployed with a logistical division and spent time working with soldiers as a counselor. He said it was interesting on this deployment because most of the soldiers knew when they would get to return home. He said on his last deployment to Qatar, soldiers were all on different cycles.
“People tend to get the most gray after a midterm R and R,” he said. “Thirty to 60 days out, people start really changing their attitude.”
He said having one date all servicemen were set to depart from Iraq was really a historical moment.
“Something like this hasn’t been done since World War II,” Abbott said.
Now that Abbott is home, he will return to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Kenwood, where he is a pastor, and will continue to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Commissioners Bob Proud and Ed Humphrey thanked the servicemen for protecting the country, and Congresswoman Jean Schmidt and Danny Bare of the Clermont County Veterans’ Service Commission also honored the five men.
Bare encouraged the servicemen to seek help from the Veterans’ Service Commission, whether they be looking to receive their benefits or even looking for a job. He also presented them with a challenge coin.
Congresswoman Schmidt presented each serviceman a certificate and thanked them for their dedication to the country.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the men and women who are serving our country,” Congresswoman Schmidt said.