Jordann Bichler has a brother who is a member of the Air Force. Bichler, a freshman graphic design major, has a brother, 32 year old Jason Bichler, who served 13 years in the United States Air Force.
Bichler said it was difficult not being able to see her brother when he was deployed to Afghanistan.
“My family and I worried about him because of where he was and Afghanistan’s proximity to Pakistan, even though he told us he was okay. He was able to call us and Skype us ever so often, but we still worried,” Bichler said.
“After doing his basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., he went to South Korea for about a year, then he was in Afghanistan for six months,” Bichler said.
Jamie Tadrzynski’s older brother Joseph Tadrzynski was in the United States Navy for four years, from June 2002 until 2006. Tadrzynski, a junior history and education major, said that it can be difficult to not see family members when they are in the military.
“There is a lot of fear around not being able to see your loved ones,” Tadrzynski said.
Two days after Tadrzynski’s 27-year-old brother graduated high school, he left to join the Navy. At his technical high school and during basic training, Tadrzynski’s brother majored in the culinary arts.
Tadrzynski said that after placing second place in his class, her brother chose the USS Mount Whitney, the 6th Fleet’s flagship, as the assignment that he would serve on during his time in the Navy. As a professional chef, Joseph Tadrzynski served the admiral aboard the Mount Whitney. While in the Navy, Tadrzynski’s brother traveled to Djibouti, the Seychelles Islands, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aden.
“My brother decided to join soon after the 9/11 attacks, and he also wanted to join because he wanted to continue the legacy since my father was in the Navy as well,” Tadrzynski said. “When my brother’s ship traveled to the Gulf of Aden, it was scary since his ship replaced the USS Cole.”
The USS Cole sustained a suicide attack on Oct. 12, 2000 while the USS Cole was being refueled. Carried out by Al-Qaeda in the Yemeni port of Aden, the terrorist attack was carried out by a small boat with explosives onboard that result in the death of 17 sailors and the injury of 39 sailors.
“My brother spent most of his time on his base in Afghanistan, but they still got bombed and shot at. I didn’t know that his base was attacked so much until Jason told us when he came home,” Bichler said.
Jason Bichler has been stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, when he was not overseas, according to Bichler.
“Not being able to contact him for long stretches at a time affected my family and I a great deal,” Tadrzynski said. “This was before Facebook, or Skype or anything that allowed easier communication was available, so we could email him, but only sporadically.”
“Not being able to contact my brother much since he started boot camp is the hardest ordeal that I have had to deal with, since he has been my best friend my whole life,” Emily Murdock, freshman education major, said. Murdock’s brother, Navy Corpsman Andrew Murdock, has been in the Navy since June 2010.
“He is trying to be shipped to Haiti, so that will be hard to deal with him being so far away from here,” Murdock said. “He just got stationed in Asbury Park, N.J., at a clinic, but he is trying to go to Haiti.”
Murdock said her 22-year-old brother has been trying to help people since he was young and instead of going to school, he decided to join the Navy.
“For me, the biggest struggle I had at the time was the fear of knowing what war was, but not understanding it,” Tadrzynski said. “Now he can’t talk about what happened while he was in Egypt in the Suez Canal. Whatever happened has such a psychological trauma on him that he isn’t his usual ‘talkative’ self ever since he went into the Navy.”
“A major struggle that my family had was when he had to be deployed and because of his family business, my mother would have to take care of it and pay the bills until he got back,” Taylor Spence, sophomore psychology major, said. “Now because my brother is also in the reserves Marine Corps, I worry if he will return okay when he receives his paperwork to go on an assignment. It’s really difficult to have my brother and father gone for months at a time, but I respect it and respect the men in my family a great deal.”
Spence’s father, who owns a small plumbing and heating business, served for 20 years as a first sergeant in the Marine Corps. He was in the reserves and was sent to southeast Asia after the 9/11 attacks. As soon as her father came out, her brother went in.
Bichler said that her family has definitely gotten a lot of support from the community.
“If you drive around my neighborhood back home, you will see yellow ribbons everywhere,” Bichler said. “At my high school, we had a club called ‘Support the Troops,’ and along with that we had bracelets and I even had a t-shirt that said, ‘Support our Troops’ across the front of it. Whenever by brother wore his uniform in public with us he always got many people saying ‘thank you, thank you for everything.”
“There is a great deal of pride in having members of your family serve our country,” Tadrzynski said. “Before my brother, my father was in the Navy and my poppop had been in the Army, so there was more support structured in my family then in my community as a whole.”
“Ever since he joined, I feel people respect him a lot more and everyone is so proud of him,” Murdock said. “When him and his friends wear their uniforms out, it is really cool to see how people treat them differently, with more respect and everything.”
When her brother came home, Bichler said she and her family were relieved. “He told us he had gotten shot at 47 times while he was on base in Afghanistan.”
“Before he left the Air Force, he sometimes came home for Thanksgiving, but he always came home for Christmas every year,” Bichler said. “So it’s not like we saw each other often, but at least once or twice a year my family saw him. Now that he’s out, he is still living in Texas, but whenever he comes to visit, he always wants to come with me to the mall. Recently, he took me to my first Eagles game.”
Tadrzynski recalled a specific instance where her brother came home when he was younger.
“I remember one time when he came home for a week when I was in seventh grade when he had to deploy the day before Thanksgiving that year, so my mom planned Thanksgiving dinner a week early so that he could be home for it,” Tadrzynski said. “But on the opposite note, one difficult event that we as a family went through seven years ago was that he missed the birth of his first son, Matthew. A Red Cross helicopter flew him off the ship to see the birth, but they didn’t make it in time.”
“My family has received a really positive experience in terms of support from the community and my family,” Spence said. “Everyone I know has been so supportive of my family whether it be someone taking us to school when I was younger, or helping my mom with a business matter when my dad wasn’t there, or whatever. We had over 35 people come and watch my brother graduate boot camp just because everyone was so proud of him.”
“It’s an honor to say that my father served for over 20 years and now my brother, who I am very close with, has taken it on as well,” Spence said. “A lot of people misconstrued the fact that people in the military aren’t educated, when in fact they are very educated, and more so in many cases.”