Defending Their Families: Ohio Militia Shot in 2004
Members of the Ohio Defense Force prepare to fire off their handguns during a class on learning how to properly handle a handgun on October 19, 2004. The class was part of the once a month overnight training in Zanesville, Ohio.
(Above) Diana, just arriving home from work at noon, walks up the front stairs of her house. Diana recently graduated from cooking college and has been working as a baker at Hecks a local restaurant in Columbiana, Ohio.
(center) Diana talks with her husband Bruce, while Cdt. Shawn Tremains listens during one of the North East Ohio Defense Force meetings at the Eckharts’ house. Bruce is the commanding officer of the Battalion, and Diana is the secretary and personal chef.
Sgt. Diana Eckhart puts extra batter from her cake into small cupcake rappers while some of the contents of her purse lay on the kitchen table. Diana carries a gun in her purse instead of wearing it on her side saying, “small town America is afraid of handguns, and I don’t want to ruffle anybody’s feathers.”
O.D.F. members practice putting together and taking apart their guns during the October training. The Ohio militia was founded in 1989 and is base out of Zanesville, but has members from almost every region of the state. It is considered the third oldest militia in Ohio.
Ohio Defense Force Lt. Bob Lester of the southeast division checks Sgt. Tom Gheen’s gun before the morning patrolling exercise. The exercise was part of a monthly weekend training that the O.D.F. held. Like many of the other O.D.F. members, Lester has a strong belief in the right to bear arms, and thinks that everybody has the right to defend him or herself with whatever force necessary.
Lester sits on top of his steamroller in between putting down asphalt driveways in a Delaware County housing development. Lester owns an asphalt company called Capital City Paving; he has been in the business for the last five years and has been self-employed since he got out of high school. Lester does not bring a gun to work with he, because he does not feel a need to have one with him at all times but he believes that the civilians should be able to have a concealed weapon.
Lester’s grandnephew Justin Sartin sits on the stairs to the basement of Lester’s house with a toy gun, while Lester teaches his other grandnephews how to box during Justin’s seventh birthday party November 8. The grandnephews enjoy spending time with Lester because he teaches them things that he has learned through the militia, like how to safely handle a gun.
Kyle followed by Pvt. Chris Flory of Kyle’s division patrol the forest near the training ground in search of an enemy post during a training exercise that the commanding officers of the O.D.F. had setup. The exercise purpose was to teach members how to deal with extreme cases of civil disruption.
Kyle points out the next paint ball gun he wants to his Uncle Conrad as he pages through a gun magazine that Conrad had brought over. Conrad tries to come visit Kyle and his brother Shawn at least once a week.
Kyle Tremains sets up a war strategy game called Panzer Leader that his Uncle Conrad Wolfgang played when he was Kyle’s age.
Kyle and Shawn wrestle on the front lawn of their house on a Saturday afternoon. Kyle hopes to one day become a ranger in the army, this hope stems from his dad who served in the Navy, his step-dad who served in the army and from Conrad who has always been interested in the military.
Sgt. Todd Wilson stands in front of a lineup of Ohio Defense Force members who made it to the monthly October training in Zanesville. At the right end of the line stands Kyle a fourteen-year-old cadet who joined the force earlier in the month, because he cannot join the real thing yet. Kyle is part of the Northeast division of the force, which his twelve-year-old brother Shawn and his Uncle Conrad are members of.