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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Military career comes to an end

By Bobby Pierce

Teresah Sawicki (right) with her mother, Yvonn Crouch, outside of mother's house. . .

Down a flag-lined drive at Hecht's Landing, Celina native Teresah Sawicki made stop number one on her first tour as a civilian in 20 years. She is home.     
After touring Europe, Latin America and the Middle East with the Air Force, she is now touring Ohio, Michigan and Delaware with her family.
She joined the Air Force during her time at Celina High School, and after her graduation in 1987, she began a 20-year career that would take her far from the area.
"I wanted to see the world," Sawicki said. A sense of duty and patriotism, as well as having an uncle in the Air Force, helped lead her to her decision.
Sawicki has led a life on the go. She has been stationed in Delaware and North Carolina domestically and Panama and the Azores abroad. Temporary assignments took her to Cuba, Honduras, Oman and Afghanistan. In the meantime, she found time to get married and have two children.
Sawicki managed cargo as well as personal loading it onto airplanes. The military hasn't only been her career, it has been her life. She met her husband, who was in the Army, through a friend in the Air Force and gave birth to her son while serving in Panama.
Sawicki says the hardest part of living the military life was working long hours and being on assignment, missing many family events. Especially hard was leaving her 15-month-old son for three months while on assignment.         Paradoxically, what she missed while overseas was what gave her the strength to go.
"I could leave in peace because of the strong family support at home," she said. Her family, and husband especially, served as her backbone for her tours.
Her mother, Yvonn Crouch, initially didn't handle her daughter's military life as well. She thought her daughter was going through a phase when she considered enlisting.
"Being a parent, you worry about your kids," she said about her daughter's tours. "I felt helpless because I didn't know what to do."         Through the years the mother's worry turned to pride which is clear from meeting Yvonn. Even in a phone conversation, the pride she has in her daughter is tangible.
Crouch eventually got some ideas of how to stay involved in her daughter's globe-hopping life. One year, her daughter was going to spend her birthday on assignment away from her family. Crouch sent a box of around 50 birthday cards from friends, family and even people Sawicki used to babysit. Sawicki said getting a single letter could make the day while away from family overseas, but a box of birthday cards went above and beyond.
This gesture was something Sawicki passed on to the 45 people working for her. The holidays are difficult for many in the service she said, so to ameliorate the homesickness, she would try to organize holiday activities for fellow service men and women.  
Sawicki said she could have stayed in the Air Force for a few more years, but it came down to a choice between her children and her career. The children won.
Sawicki officially retires Aug. 31, and plans on being a homebody the rest of the summer. After that, she plans on going to her first job interview in over 20 years.
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