We’ve all heard heroic stories about distant relatives in the military and watched touching videos of soldiers coming back home, but for some Rocket families, this is a reality. Students and faculty members that you pass each day in the hallways may be silently thinking about a parent or waiting to hear back from a son or daughter on base overseas. Knowing that a family member is risking his or her life for such a noble cause is bound to invoke a sense of pride. Apart from this, there is an unmistakable and unique impact left on each person.
Senior Brianna Dowell-Howko’s father served in the army for 28 years. He was deployed overseas in 1990 and 2010, and Brianna believes that this made their family stronger. The times he was gone were hard on their family, but it gave them an opportunity to grow together and not take one another for granted.
She takes pride, not only in her father’s service, but the lessons he has been able to teacher her upon returning. “His experience has taught me that you don’t know how much time you have,” Dowell-Howko said. “A bomb could have gone off on his base in Afghanistan and I would never of been able to talk to him again. It has also taught me to be courageous and stand up for what I believe in without backing down.”
Freshman Jonathon Hazzard’s father was commissioned through Air Force ROTC and served for eight years. While many sons and daughters find inspiration in their military parents, Hazzard’s goes beyond the norm. “I take great pride in knowing that my dad served our country. He has taught me to act with honor, respect, and integrity. In fact, he has been a great factor in my inspiration to follow in his footsteps by going into the military, most likely through ROTC.
Freshman Lauren Riede’s father served for 24 years, eight of which were in active duty and 16 in reserves. She has early memories of sending care packages to him when she was in kindergarten and doing anything she could to keep him in her life.
Another memory Riede holds close in her heart involves the support of a community she didn’t even know existed. “My dad’s first and last meals when he was leaving and coming home were at the Skyline by my house,” Riede said. “When he was coming home, a bunch of people met us at the airport to celebrate, and when we arrived at Skyline on the way home, they had hung us a banner saying ‘Welcome Home Joe Riede’ without us even asking.”
Art teacher Willy Corbett has two daughters (and McNicholas graduates), Marie Corbett Mills and Julie Corbett Oliver, and two son-in-laws, who are in the military. Mills saw joining the military as an opportunity to do something meaningful with her life, and Oliver was inspired by her sister and the stories of her grandfathers. Mills was stationed in Germany when the Iraq War began, and Oliver was sent to Iraq in February 2004. Corbett’s daughters and sons-in-law have been through seven deployments that have taken them across the globe. However, their story begins on a day that Americans will not soon forget.
“Our lives changed forever on September 11, 2001. Not only were there the attacks on the World Trade Center, but it was the day Marie left for basic training,” Corbett said. “The army actually held off a week to allow any new recruit to opt out, but a week later Marie began basic training and she has been all over the U.S. and Germany since.”
Through military life, the Corbett family learned that they could depend on each other in ways they never thought possible. “Separation does not mean being separate. We all need to trust in God and love each other unconditionally,” Corbett said. “In an odd way, even though the girls were thousands of miles away, they never left our hearts and mind.”