By KANDACE MCCOY
MT. VERNON - In 1961, Richard Rybacki was drafted to serve his country and was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga., for his basic training.
Once he completed the training, he was assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, for training on ground-to-air Hawk missiles, and from there he would spend a tour in Germany, far removed from his family.
“At first I didn’t like (serving) because I was married. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m proud to have served my country,” Rybacki said.
Once Rybacki completed his tour in Germany, he returned home in 1963. At that time he was required to serve four more years as a reservist, and spent two weeks of each year training at Fort Eustis, Va.
But his military career isn’t the only thing of which he’s proud. Forty-six years after he was drafted, Rybacki’s grandson, Jason Langhauser, is now serving in the National Guard. And Langhauser has attended the exact same training camps as his grandfather, completing his basic training at Fort Benning and his advanced individual training at Fort Eustis.
Langhauser, now 20, joined the Guard at the age of 19, something he decided to do ever since he was a freshman in high school. However, the main reason Langhauser joined was because of his grandfather. He said he grew up with pictures of his grandfather’s military life and considered him a “hero for serving his country.”
And though his family has fully supported his decision to serve in the Guard, Langhauser said his grandfather helped him prepare for basic training. “A lot of the (same) training methods are still used,” he said.
And, like his grandfather, Langhauser said though there were some physical demands, the hardest part about training was the separation from family.
“My grandfather wrote me every day. It helped keep me going,” he said.
Langhauser said he does hope to be assigned to serve in Iraq and serve alongside his fellow soldiers. “In basic (training), people are unforgettable. There’s a brotherhood. You lean on them as much as they lean on you.”
Rybacki said that though he has mixed feelings about the Iraq war, he’s proud his grandson made the decision to serve his country.
“He’s going to serve and he’s willing to go. I know what that feels like to serve and protect our country.” And, he’s equally proud that Langhauser’s training has followed his own. I don’t think it’s every day your grandson goes to the same basic training (camps) you did.”