HILL AIR FORCE BASE — While growing up, Veterans Day was just another holiday to Staff Stg. Kevin Saicheck, who is now a military working dog handler. That changed for Saicheck the moment he joined the military.
“It means a whole lot more now, not only to remember the past and present veterans, but it’s a day that has a lot more emotion now, especially with the camaraderie we share working in the military,” Saicheck said.
The biggest sacrifice Saicheck says about being in the military is leaving his family. He has been deployed three times, but had to return home early this past February for his 2-year-old son, who had heart surgery. “It’s not easy, and it’s obviously hard at times, but I do it for my love of the country,” Saicheck said.
It has its rewards too. Recently, while deployed in Afghanistan as a military police officer, Saicheck was able to help bring supplies to the local nationals. “They were very grateful, which made up for the tough days on the job,” Saicheck said.
Saicheck admits a lot of people thank him for his service, which he appreciates, but the ones that should be remembered are those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. “I am grateful when people thank me, but I like to think of those people who served before me and sacrificed far greater than what I have had to give up,” Saicheck said.
Saicheck spent Veterans Day with his family.
“They are the most important thing in my life. The military is my job and I will do anything for my country, but my family is first and I want to spend as much time with them as I can,” Saicheck said.
Senior Airman Edward Bielick grew up in an area of Pittsburgh that didn’t have a big military community, so being stationed in Top of Utah has given Bielick a different perspective on Veterans Day. “I think the community here is more supportive and celebrates Veterans Day more fervently, probably because they see planes flying over and military uniforms on a regular basis, making community members more supportive,” Bielick said.
However, Bielick doesn’t consider himself one of those veterans who should be honored on the holiday.
“It’s a great honor, but it seems a bit surreal because I’m just doing what I signed up to do. The veterans that came from past wars, even recent wars, I think are the ones that we should be thanking because they paved the road for us to be here today,” Bielick said.
Bielick returned from Kandahar, Afghanistan in October, which meant missing his son’s birth in July. Thanks to Skype, though, Bielick was able to witness the birth.
“I would have liked to have been there, but Skype was a good experience,” Bielick said, who got word of his deployment shortly after news of the pregnancy.
“It’s one of those things you don’t really plan on or prep for, but you know at any time you might have to leave.”
Staff Sgt. Kyle Bushey recently got back from a deployment in Afghanistan, saying it was a culture shock being away from family and friends, but knew he was there to do a job, which included a nine-hour firefight with the enemy.
“Things go crazy when you start getting shot at, but then your training kicks in,” Bushey said. “It seems like such a short time, but it felt like four days.”
Growing up, Bushey had several family members in the military, so Veterans Day has always meant a great deal for their family.
“It’s nice to have these holidays, especially to remember those who have sacrificed to make this country what it is and remember them as often as we can,” Bushey said.