Central Ohio serviceman carries on family's military tradition despite losses
COLUMBUS, Ohio —
You might call it a family tradition.
“My grandfathers served in the military in WWII,” said Alex Rozanski. “My father served during the Vietnam conflict. I thought it was something that men did, specifically that Rozanski men did. We just served in the military.”
Second Lieutenant Alex Rozanski serves as well. Before he was a husband and father of four, he served in Iraq as a member of Lima Company. He lost dozens of fellow marines in 2005.
“We had no idea that a small reserve unit from Columbus, Ohio, would have the heartfelt tragedy that they did,” said his wife, Melissa Rozanski.
Then in 2012, the family lost his brother, Captain Nick Rozanski to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
“For tragedy to hit our family again in such a different way, it was very difficult,” said Melissa Rozanski.
The Rozanski family knows the sacrifice of protecting our freedoms. But they also know the importance of serving our country. That’s why Alex has taken a new step in serving.
“Enemy took my brother out of the fight, but he didn’t take me out of the fight,” said Alex Rozanski.
He just completed Officer Candidate School (OCS) with the Ohio National Guard, leading to a new rank and new responsibilities. It’s the same program his brother went through.
“Hopefully I can continue his career and finish his career, since he won’t be able to,” said Rozanski.
He says his brother is always with him.
“I wear a bracelet in his honor and I wore it all through Officer Candidate School and he’s always that reminder,” he said. “When things were tough and training is tough.”
That training involves a difficult 18-month program and, for Alex, that meant time away from family, on top of a full-time job and a full school work load, as Alex pursues his degree.
Memories of his brother, Nick, kept him going.
“He was an avid runner,” said Alex Rozanski about his brother. “He loved running. He could always outrun me. A lot of times, he would just say – ‘Come on Al, keep up. Let’s go, let’s go, Al.' And many times, I would hear that voice. If I was on a run or a ruck march, or patrolling through the woods, I would hear that voice – ‘Come on Al. Let’s go. Let’s get up there’. And it really did. It worked. It motivated me.”
The Rozanskis are a proud military family, knowing one day the tradition may continue and their kids might serve.
“One day, if Jack or Reagan or Jacob or Emily tells me that they want to join the military, I’d be behind them 100%,” said Alex Rozanski about his kids.
For now, they prepare –as a family – for what’s next in this new chapter of military life. Melissa knows her husband’s passion to serve goes beyond the call of duty.
“The tragedy our family has dealt with has no way defined him,” she said. “I think it has bettered him. I think it’s made him a better father, a better husband, a better son – yeah. I do think that. But it’s also made him a better soldier. And I think his brother would be so incredibly proud of him.”
On behalf of those he served with, and on behalf of his brother, Alex Rozanski is on a mission to serve.
“The enemy, enemy took them out of the fight,” he said. “They’re not going to take me out of the fight. I think it’s my job to take their place on the line and continue on.”