U.S. Army Garrison Italy community members were saddened to learn of the March 19 death of a longtime garrison employee due to COVID-19.
Michael “Mike” Ushko, 74, passed away in Vicenza after a brief battle with illness, complicated by the coronavirus. Ushko served the U.S. Army and the Vicenza Military Community for more than 54 years.
Col. Dan Vogel, commander of USAG Italy, shared the new of Ushko’s death Friday with garrison staff.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of a fantastic team member. My heartfelt condolences go out to Mike’s family in their time of grief,” Vogel said. “On behalf of the entire garrison team, I’ll say that losing Mike is a tragedy and he will be greatly missed.”
A New York native, Ushko began his time with the Army in 1966. In 1968, he served a tour in Vietnam. Ushko also served overseas in Korea, Japan and Germany. He served two tours in Vicenza in uniform.
In 1974, Rex Shuey met Ushko when they served in the 221st MP Company at Caserma Ederle. Shuey, a retired sergeant major who still lives nearby, was saddened to hear of his friend’s passing.
“He always had a smile,” Shuey said, remembering times they spent together as Soldiers. “He was one of my desk sergeants. We had a lot of fun and would pal around together.”
As time went on, the men married and settled down, Shuey said. But, they would meet for dinner and play cards, or take a day trip. Recently, Shuey bumped into Ushko at the commissary, he said.
“He was a good friend, it really hit me when I got the e-mail saying he died,” Shuey said. “Everybody liked him, I don’t think he had an enemy in the world. He was just a nice guy."
After the military, he served in several civilian positions, to include the security lead in Verona. Ushko worked at the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation since 1996, said Sean Morton, FMWR Business Recreation Division Chief
“He worked most recently at the Arena Bowling Center and was well-liked by everyone,” Morton said.
A member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8862, Ushko is survived by wife, Tamara, his son Alex and grandsons Sebastian and Thomas.
Due to current COVID-19 measures, a memorial service cannot be currently held, although the family would like to hold a service once it’s possible to do so.