PIQUA, Ohio (WDTN) - One hundred and sixty Ohio Army National Guard troops got a hero's welcome as they walked into the Piqua High School gymnasium that was full of cheering family and friends.
Pride and patriotism masked the fear that many were feeling as the 1487th Transportation Company prepared for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
22 year-old E-4 Specialist Sir Abernathy hid behind his smile. "It's a defense mechanism," joked SPC. Abernathy. "I'm just taking it all in. I'll probably cry later by myself. My auntie always told me, "don't ever let them see you cry".
Like many in the 1487th Transportation Company, this is Abernathy's first deployment, but he says he is ready to serve. Abernathy said is sure the deployment will not be fun, but there is no where else in the world he would rather be.
"When I first got in, I was like, "I'm not deploying. I can't do this", but after being in for so long it would almost feel wrong if I didn't deploy because I've been in for so long. It's like we are family".
Abernathy's biological family said they are behind him one hundred percent. "He's my little boy," Saunda Abernathy told 2 NEWS. "He's my son and he's going to Afghanistan for a whole year. I'm going to miss him".
While Shaunda is sending her son off, Private First Class Kevin Andrews is leaving his 9 month-old daughter behind.
"Her name is Ellie," said PFC. Kevin Andrews. "She means the world to me and I am going to miss her. She just started walking, so I got to see her walk before I left".
Andrews said all the support on Wednesday made saying good-bye hurt a little less. "It's a little overwhelming and it made me proud".
The soldiers will train at Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying to their assignment location in Afghanistan.
Logan, Darke and Preble under level one snow emergencies. Butler County is under a level two snow emergency.
Snowfall reports vary across the Miami Valley as the storm continues to produce heavy snow, making it hard for drivers to see in some cases.
People's daily routines were definitely impacted by the wintry blast Friday.
The first wave of the storm brought hazardous conditions to the Greenville area in Darke County.