At the Ohio History Connection, we collect objects that relate to the lives of Ohioans, including those who served in the armed forces. These materials allow us to learn more about the experiences of our state’s veterans.  Today, as Ohioans continue to serve in the military, it’s important we recognize their service and actively collect objects from recent conflicts.
“I think it’s an important part of history that needs to be told,” says Kevin Lang, a native of Gahanna, Ohio, and veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. “And it needs to be told from a personal basis that you don’t get in history books.”
In 2014, Kevin donated materials from his service in Afghanistan to the Ohio History Connection. Objects include parts of his combat and dress uniforms. These materials traveled with Kevin as he trained in the U.S. and while he was in Afghanistan.
In August 2004, Kevin enlisted for the active duty army. By February 2005, he had completed basic combat training, infantry advanced individual training and graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. As a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, Kevin was part of the national strategic response force. When deployed, this elite unit could be anywhere in the world within 18 hours.
Kevin’s overseas service began in February 2007, when he was deployed to Andar, a district in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. For 15 months, he and his unit—the 2nd Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment—patrolled an area nestled in eastern Afghanistan, at the foot of the Hindu Kush Mountains. With freezing temperatures during the winter and sweltering heat during the summer, soldiers had to be prepared for the region’s diverse climate.
Governed by sharia law, Andar was a strategic location for Taliban leadership. Kevin—who soon became sergeant—and his unit spread out across the district, establishing fire bases and building relationships with local village elders and police units. They also monitored the overall condition of villages, lending support when needed. ?Thanks to their efforts, Kevin and his unit disrupted enemy movement throughout Andar and received the Valorous Unit Award, which is presented to units demonstrating gallantry in combat. 
Whether it’s through the news or in a history book, there are many ways we learn about the United States military. But, objects such as Kevin’s uniform provide a closer look at the individual members and units that serve in the armed forces. With donations from people like Kevin, the Ohio History Connection can build upon its existing military collection. As that collection grows, so does our ability to preserve and share the stories of Ohio’s military service members.