By Love's Hand

By Love's Hand

Fierce  Female Network And The We’73 Project

Vol 5 Apr 2024

April Veteran of The Month

The April veteran of the month is Peter Kalabisko, born on December 22nd, 1946. He was born and raised in Hamburg, Pennsylvania; growing up, he lived with his mom and dad. In 2024 he still lives in Hamburg, but with his wife who’s been married for 62 years. His parents had a hard time picking a spot that would be a good place to raise a child. They went from Ukraine to the United States, back to Ukraine, and lastly, ended up in the United States for good. Pete never had the best relationship with his mother growing up, but where that lacked his father stepped in to fill that void. He had rocky relationships throughout his childhood because he had 64 first cousins and a half-brother with whom he did not get along. His dad truly was the biggest support system in his life and helped him to become a man.
After graduating from high school, he first attempted to go to college, at Albright University, but ended up failing out not long after. He knew he wanted to do something with his life but was not exactly sure what it was. He joined the Air Force on April 24th, 1970, because he knew he wouldn’t get drafted in the long run. He chose the Air Force because of his experience in a recruiting office. There was a group of men who were being recruited, and the sergeant counted off one, two, one, two. The ones entered the Marines, and two were sent to the Army. At that moment, he knew he wanted to stay as far away from both as possible due to a lack of control.
Pete did his basic training in Lackland, Texas, for six to eight weeks. When basic was over, and it was time for the Armed Fired Qualifications Exam, he scored perfect on all of them. This allowed him the opportunity to make his own choices regarding what he wanted to do. Considering he was fluent in Russia, French, and German, they wanted to send him to language school so that he could learn to decode and intercept messages from Russia. This opportunity fell through for him, and he ended up at Inventory school and became an Inventory management specialist.
During his four years in the service, Peter had the chance to travel to Texas, New Jersey, Washington, and many different parts of Taiwan. Out of everyone he met, he said no one compared when it came to the amount of places they traveled. Out of all the spots, his favorite was Taiwan; he got lucky with going there because it was not supposed to be a permanent placement. His original orders were to go to Vietnam, but they needed people to stay on the island, and he was one of those chosen. He got there on a Saturday and stayed for six days without having anything communicated to him, but they found a spot where he was needed. It was a mystery to him how he ended up being there.
When asked about his proudest moment in the Air Force, it did not take long for him to think of something. He was attending a graduation as an undergraduate. He was ranked fourth based on test scores, and the only people ahead of him were two officers and one man he worked with. His high scores are what led him to be recommended for computer school. On his base, he had the second-highest scores but still was not able to go. At that moment, he said he was proud of himself and mad at that system. However, not getting chosen for computer school led to him being sent overseas and having the chance to become a Staff Sergeant.
Peter’s most emotional journey in the service was one night in Amarillo in late June or early July. He was a part of a personal away tech group as an admin, but they had no real purpose. They were told to do pointless tasks that did not benefit anyone. He fell out of bed from the top bunk and lay crying on the floor from pain and emotion. He wanted to go home and see his girlfriend and was also in pain due to suffering from flat feet. All the people around him helped him and did their best to console him, but he was done and attempted to leave. There was a railroad that went through the base, and behind it was Route 66. Ultimately, he was caught and put into jail for a little while.
After serving for four years, Peter got out on March 24th, 1970. If they had given him the job he was qualified to do, he gladly would have stayed in for at least four more years to see where his life would have ended up. His soon-to-be wife also wanted him home as much as he wanted to go, so in the end, he left. He also knew that it would be a struggle to get any further promotions because those opportunities only arose few and far between due to there being so many who were in line for the job. He saw so many people who were not getting the chance at opportunities they deserved.
The main thing that stuck with Peter throughout his time in the service was to not judge others based on gender, race, or age. He believes everyone should be given the same chances; the only deciding factor should be one’s ability and will to work and improve. As well as everyone should be paid the same if they are doing the same job.

Written by,
Lindsay Martin

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