Diversity & Inclusion Spotlight: African American/Black History Month





State Diversity and
Inclusion Advisor (SDIA)

MAJ Shaun Robinson
Phone: 614-336-7245

Equal Employment
Opportunity Advisor

MSG Alex Ribacchi
Phone: 614-336-7497


Former Guard members reminisce

VIdeo by Staff Sgt. George B. Davis, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
Story by Mike Bowersock, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs

In celebration of African American/Black History Month, the Ohio National Guard recently spoke
to some former members about their pride, their experience and their memories of having served.

Ohio National Guard retirees Larry Green (from left), Charles Odum, Alphonso Meriweather, Steven Cuffy (second from right) and Richard Collins (right) meet with Mike Bowersock (fourth from left).

Ohio National Guard retirees Larry Green (from left), Charles Odum, Alphonso Meriweather, Steven Cuffy (second from right) and Richard Collins (right) meet with Mike Bowersock (fourth from left), a public information officer with the Ohio National Guard, to discuss their time serving in the Guard, Feb. 22, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Staff Sgt. George Davis, ONG)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (02/29/16) — On the city’s east side, right around Mount Vernon Avenue and North 20th Street, there is a barbershop that Al Edmonson has run for the last 25 years. The barbershop, which is as much of a social club as a place for a trim, is a place where military veterans come for a haircut and to talk about the old days.

On a recent Monday night, five former members of the Ohio Army and Air National Guard, now retired, gathered and talked about their time in the Guard.

“The military really was one of the greatest things I did with my life,” said retired Senior Master Sgt. Charles Odum, formerly of the 121st Air Refueling Wing. “I started out in Cleveland and I ran around with a lot of individuals that spent their life in trouble, and I told myself that if I had the opportunity to go into the Air Force I was going to do everything I can to be the best person that I can.”
All of them know each other. All of them come  to the barber shop routinely. All of them are part of a comradery they found in the Ohio National Guard.

“At 19 years old I was in Korea working in the DMZ (the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea), I got to see Japan,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Steven Cuffy, formerly of the 838th Military Poice Company. “I got to see a broader spectrum of what I knew in Lima, Ohio where I was from, so not only that but that was the first time I saw a black first officer, a black platoon sergeant, African Americans in leadership positions and it wasn’t based on their skin color. It was based on their skill and I said to myself, ‘you know what? I can be that, I can do that.’”

They joined all those years ago for a variety of reasons.

“I went in because of finance(s),” said retired Capt. Larry Green, formerly of the Joint Force Headquarters. “I was in college and could not afford it.” He joined for the tuition assistance benefits. He went in into the active-duty Army in 1983 and retired from the Ohio Army National Guard in 2009. “That was the whole thing with joining the military for me, I had no idea I was going to stay in that long.”

Added retired Staff Sgt. Richard Collins, formerly of the 121st ARW: “Once you are a member of the armed services, you never lose that no matter what branch you’re part of. We’re all Family. Once someone has signed the dotted line and put their name behind it and everything behind them with it that comes with that — their energy, their intellect, their comradery, their willingness to serve their country and that’s what everybody here has with them, that sense of duty, that sense of Family, that sense of giving it your all.”

Whether they started in the National Guard, or on active duty and then switched to the Guard, they all now share the bond of having been Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen.

“You’re helping your own people now,” Cuffy said. “You take that shield up. I got your back, if that call comes up at two or three o’clock in the morning, I’m going to make sure my fellow Ohioans are safe.”

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