FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Missing the birth of a child is a sacrifice some military families make, but for Bill Sovitsky, history repeated itself.
Three times, actually.
Sovitsky’s father, Warrant Officer 2 Bernard Sovitsky, missed Bill’s birth in 1961 while serving as an Army intelligence agent. It happened again in 1987 to Sovitsky, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, with the birth of his son, William Jr., who then experienced the same in 2010, missing his daughter’s birth while deployed to Iraq.
“That’s three generations of us that have missed at least one child being born because of military service, but that’s just part of the game,” said Sovitsky, now a civilian employee for U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command’s Medical Maintenance Policies and Analysis directorate. “That was part of what we grew up with; that aspect of sacrifice.”
Stories of sacrifice, service and resiliency are plentiful throughout the U.S. armed forces, with every story being different but just as important.
As the nation collectively says “thank you” to its veterans, AMLC and its direct reporting units are celebrating by recognizing its employees and their family members who have served.
“Veterans Day is a time to give thanks to the men and women who have worn the uniform, defending our country and our way of life,” said Ralph Davis, AMLC’s safety manager and a retired Army Sergeant Major. “The reason I joined was to honor all the great Americans who had gone before me, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country.”
For Sovitsky, he was one of five siblings who all followed their father’s lead.
The Sovitsky patriarch joined the U.S. Merchant Marine at age 16 near the end of World War II, then enlisted in the Army air corps and completed the majority of his 27 years of service in the Army, also serving during Korea and Vietnam before retiring in 1972.
Bill Sovitsky served 20 years in the Air Force. His brothers Joe and Paul served in the Army, while John and Bob served in the Navy.
“There wasn’t any one of us growing up that didn’t want to follow my father into the service,” Sovitsky said.
Lt. Col. Marcus D. Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea, a direct reporting unit to AMLC, looks up to his grandfather, Cpl. Darrell F. Schaub, who served during the Korean War.
Schaub’s four years of service was recognized this past June at a ceremony in Korea marking the 70th anniversary of the war. He was a combat engineer with the 9th Infantry and 25th Infantry that fought in several engagements over 1951 and 1952.
“He told me about them having very limited rations and having to choose between eating the pack mule and starving to death,” Perkins said, reflecting on stories his grandfather told him.
Perkins said Schaub’s service “didn’t truly impact” him until he was first stationed in Korea in 1998 and experienced the Korean cold for the first time.
“Now, coming back for a third tour as a commander and with 24 years of experience, I have a much greater appreciation” for his service, Perkins added. “It is important not to forget those that have paid an enduring cost for our freedom that we enjoy today as Americans.”
Then there’s Maj. Calvin King, whose uncle, Spc. John Phillips, received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.
Phillips was a loader/operator and truck driver for a combat engineer unit that specialized in building fire support bases, or FSBs, which were small outposts for artillery and to support infantry units that came under fire.
During an attack by the North Vietnamese Army, Phillips volunteered to leave the safety of his FSB to get more dirt to fill sandbags to fortify their position. While out, he assisted another unit working to replenish ammunition.
A mortar round struck just behind the vehicle on which Phillips was riding, knocking him to the ground and injuring him. But before he realized he was hurt, Phillips ran to the aid of another Soldier lying in the road and helped drag him to safety before both were medically evacuated.
“With exception of his VFW service, you would never know,” said King, who also earned a Purple Heart after being injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2014. “He’s very humble.”
King’s brother, Cpt. Casey King, also served 17 years before he was forced to retire for medical reasons about seven years ago. The two deployed together during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002.
Maj. King, who serves as AMLC’s G-3, said he’s most thankful that “I can still see them and we don’t have to have a one-sided conversation.”
“The beauty of Veterans Day, really, is that while every Soldier has a story, the stories continue to be written,” King said.
Like Sovitsky and Davis, many in AMLC’s civilian workforce are veterans, including Public and Congressional Affairs Director Ellen Crown, a former Navy journalist.
Crown, a third generation Sailor, said she was the only one of seven siblings who chose to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who both enlisted in the Navy.
“My grandfather was on submarines during World War II (and) my dad was a Boatswain’s Mate, which is a deck seaman,” Crown said, adding that her father was a “plank owner” on the USS L.Y. Spear, a submarine tender, which means he was a member of the commissioning crew of the ship.
Crown said the most rewarding part of her service was the exposure to diversity and being able to work toward a career she enjoys. While she’s proud of her time in the Navy, she said her decision to serve was more about opportunity than anything else.
“I think of Veterans Day as a chance to share my story, so that maybe someone else can see what military service really has to offer,” she said. “Maybe someone else out there is wondering if they have what it takes to join and serve in the military. The answer might surprise even them.”