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Ohio National Guard expresses appreciation to employers by offering a unique experience

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Michael Gibson
  • 178th Public Affairs
The 178th Fighter Wing hosted the annual Ohio National Guard Joint Employer Event at the Springfield Air National Guard Base to express the Guard's appreciation for support the employers provide and inform them about the ONG's mission.

More than 30 employers attended the event and received unique hands-on experience with different equipment, weapons and a ride in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.

Cincinnati Assistant Chief of Police Lt. Col. James Whalen was one of the participants in the event. He said that at any given time the department could have around 20 personnel deployed on military status.

"We have a lot of personnel committed to the military and we support that," said Whalen. "This gives me a better understanding about what our personnel are doing and gives me a better understanding on how to support them."

Maj. Gen. Mark Bartman, Assistant Adjutant General for Air and commander, Ohio Air National Guard, welcomed the participants and took time to personally express his appreciation for the support they provide to the guard and their employees who serve.

The general then presented coins of excellence to both Melissa Romanoli from American Honda and Chad Howard from Cardinal Health for their work in supporting the ONG and veterans.

"The coin was an honor," said Romanoli. She said her dad was in the Air Force and she planned on challenging him with it, a military tradition, during dinner to see if he had his coin from when he served.

The employers broke off into groups learning from Airmen and Soldiers and about firearms, as well as chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosives equipment.

The groups had the opportunity to use Beamhit, a marksmanship training system. The Beamhit allowed them to simulate firing an M-4 carbine with a laser attached to the weapon. If they were accurate, a reactionary target would let them know they hit it by making a beep sound.

The employers then experienced eating a Meals, Ready to Eat lunch. During that time, they also learned about the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve organization from retired Brig. Gen. Steve Koper, Ohio ESGR chair.

"We have a working relationship with the Guard," said Koper. "The Adjutant General has always been extremely supportive of the ESGR efforts."

During the afternoon, the groups explored an aircraft ramp with different military vehicles and equipment used in the Army and Air Guard while they awaited their Blackhawk ride.

A doors-open Blackhawk ride was the highlight event of the day, according to many in the group.

Craig Sample, account executive with the Cincinnati Reds, said that the Blackhawk ride was a "Top 10 lifetime experience."

Sample also expressed gratitude for the experience and everything the ONG does. "I appreciate everything that every military member does and for our community, our state and for our country."

The day concluded with each employer receiving a small gift package to take home.