SOUTHWEST ASIA --
Deployment involves sacrifice. Military members often say goodbye to loved ones only to miss holidays, birthdays, first steps, graduations, and other important milestones in the lives of friends and family back home.
However, sometimes military members have one less goodbye to make and deploy alongside their family, making the sting of separation a bit easier to bear.
Such is the case for Chief Master Sgt. Ted Ostrowski, Sr., and his son, Tech. Sgt. Tyler Ostrowski. The duo will spend Father’s Day working with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.
“To me, when you’re deployed, every day should be a great day, and I don’t know if [Father’s Day] is any more important than another day,” said Ted, chief enlisted manager with the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. “I’m very blessed to have been a father, and once you’re a father, you’re a father forever.”
Ted and Tyler, members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard 128th Air Control Squadron and currently deployed with the 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, have served in the Air Force for a combined 41 years.
They are not the only members of their family in the Air Force, either. Tyler’s brother, Teddy Ostrowski, Jr., is also a member of the ANG. All three served at the same wing for several years and even deployed to the 380 AEW together in 2013.
The Ostrowski family does not have a long military tradition, said Ted. In fact, the tradition of service started with Ted’s enlistment, and he did his best to make sure that if his sons made the decision to join, they made it without his overt influence.
Ted’s efforts in this arena were successful, said Tyler. In fact, Tyler did not even tell his father that he hoped to join the military until he was already on his way to the recruiter’s office. He, too, wanted to ensure that his decision to enlist was entirely his own.
“I wanted it to be my decision,” said Tyler. “I didn’t want him to feel like anyone else pressured me. It was more or less to tell myself that it was my decision, that I’m doing this because I want to.”
Even so, Ted was happy to see his sons join the Air Force ranks, he said.
“I was happy, but I won’t say I was shocked,” said Ted. “It was more pride that they wanted to be part of the military, of something bigger than themselves.”
Though they work in the same squadron, Ted and Tyler do not often directly work with one another during the course of their duties. They ensure that any interaction remains entirely professional; that way, their familial ties do not affect their work and do not create a conflict of interest.
Military service is a family affair, involving each member whether they directly serve in the military or not, said Ted. His wife, Cathy, is an enormous source of support for all of them.
“A lot of times, the spouses and moms get overlooked,” said Ted. “Even though she’s very independent, she’s been the glue that’s held the family together. She’s been an inspiration to me, and I consider all four of us to be part of the military family.”
In the Air Force Reserve and ANG, it is not uncommon for family members to serve together, nor is it odd for them to deploy together, said Ted. But even beyond the blood family, members of the same wing or unit become a close-knit family themselves.
Tyler agrees with this sentiment, explaining that the motivation to join the military and the motivation to stay often grow and change as an Airman’s perspective changes.
“You feel purpose in the work that you’re doing,” said Tyler. “You join for your selfish reasons, or for love of your country, but really you stay in because you want to stay in and give back to the military and the country that’s given you so much.”