MONTE VISTA — Sixty-year-old Cynthia Wojciechowicz watched the Monte Vista Veterans Tribute Parade with tear-filled eyes.
“I remember being a vet and serving in active duty for my country,” she said on Friday, Nov. 12.
Before attending the ceremony at Faith Hinkley Veteran’s Memorial Park, Wojciechowicz spoke about her time in the military and of the importance of honoring veterans. She is just one of many in her family to serve in the military.
“Thank your vets for their service, for their willingness to die for this country,” she said. “We all wore green, but we all bled red.”
Wojciechowicz entered the military right after college in 1982. She started in the National Guard unit in Monte Vista.
“It was actually in the Feed Store Church building, that was the Guard building back then,” she said. “It was the 122nd Medical Ambulance Unit. Myself and another gal I know, from here in the Valley, went to basic training together, in Fort Jackson, S.C., and from Fort Jackson, we went to Fort San Houston Texas, for combat medic training.”
Cynthia said that in Combat Medic School she was trained to give injections, put band-aids on soldiers, and do minimal battlefield surgeries, if necessary, including, starting an IV, and performing a tracheotomy, things that EMTs are not allowed to do today.
“We had a lot more ability, through the military to do lifesaving procedures, if it became necessary, but then when the law changed, well that changed, too," she said.
With moving and everything changing, she attended a second military school that was opposite the first — Missile Maintenance School, in Huntsville, Ala. She was trained in electronics and learned how to fire TOW anti-tank missiles.
“So, I guess you could say, I had all kinds of crazy medical and electrical knowledge,” she said with a chuckle.
She remembered being asked by a colonel, what she would do if one broke down.
“I told him, ‘Well I guess put a band-aid on it.’ He laughed a little but respected my honesty and when I left the military, I am proud to say that I was Specialist 4th Class promotable, meaning if I would have stayed in three more months, I would have been wearing sergeant stripes,” Wojciechowicz said.
The best promotion she ever got in the military was when she was asked if she wanted to stay in with kids or to leave with kids.
“Because you can do either or, and I chose to leave and raise my children, that was a great promotion,” she said.
Wojciechowicz said while she has fond memories of her time in the military, what she remembers most is when people did not return from deployments.
“Several people in my unit deployed to Lebanon, some of them got to come home and some of them didn’t. I remember that the most,” she said.
She has no regrets and recommends serving in the military.
“If I had to do it all over again I would. I traveled quite a bit, I had a baby in the middle of Desert Storm, I was teased about having a war baby,” Wojciechowicz said. “I have had some amazing experiences. I have seen people who have had freedom that didn’t ever have it before. I remember seeing the Berlin Wall come down, but most of all I remember always thinking, that being in the military is part of the reason that I never take the freedom that I have in this country for granted.”
Wojciechowicz said she was honorably discharged from the military and always takes time to honor her fellow veterans.
“Some of the best people I ever met in the world, were wearing a uniform like me,” Wojciechowicz said. “People should definitely honor their vets, not because I am telling you to, because I am a vet, but because they should be honored for showing everyone in the world, that freedom is not free.”