As he drove back into his hometown in this city, Ditz passed sign after sign at local businesses, welcoming him home and then had several family members and friends gathered on Main Street to give him a warm and celebratory welcome.
Ditz has traveled extensively in the past 14 years.
For his six different deployments Ditz has been to Iraq (2004), Kuwait (2007), Afghanistan in 2010 and again in 2013, New York (2015), and then returned to Afghanistan again last year.
Ditz felt speechless and humbled when asked about being home for the final time.
“It’s very weird to know that your friends are still over there fighting and you’re not going to be there with them, even though it’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “It’s a lot easier being the one forward (on the frontline) than it is being the one at home” Ditz said.
Even though he couldn’t pick a favorite memory since there’s too many he enjoyed, he will certainly miss his friends.
As part of the homecoming, interim Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney gave Ditz and his family a police escort around town.
“When I saw the cop lights behind us, I said to my wife ‘aren’t you going to pull over?’ She said ‘nope’ and smiled,” he said with a laugh.
His wife Shannon is happy to have her husband home at last.
“All the stress is gone,” she said. “Finally I have a hand with the five year old, but it is a little surreal since he’s been deployed half the time we’ve been married,” Shannon said.
Besides the group of family, Ditz had many friends like Mayor Rob Duncan waiting to celebrate the welcome.
“We are very grateful for his service to both to the city (and country), and of course with my son about to leave it gives me hope to see him returning home safe and sound just like Dave,” Duncan said.
Liz Roblero, of Norwalk, called 15 different businesses around town to see if they could display welcome signs for Ditz on his escort around town. Businesses included McDonalds, Millers and the Norwalk Eagles Club.
“I wanted to do this for David since I couldn’t do it for my brother who served since he lived in Georgia at the time,” Roblero said. “It’s something great to honor their service.”
Ditz will have an official welcome home party sometime this summer.