January 10th, 2017 14:57 EST
Face of Defense: Soldier Comforts Families of Fallen
Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Alex Ushomirsky wasn`t born in the United States, but he performs one of the most important duties any American can -- honoring fallen service members here.
Ushomirsky came to the United States in 1997. Born in Russia and having lived in Ukraine, His father and grandfather both served in the Russian army. His family lineage can be traced back to a Ukrainian city that spells out the first part of his last name. Ushomir is about 120 miles west of the capital of Kyiv.
"My granddad was a lieutenant colonel, and my dad was a major," Ushomirsky said.
Ushomirsky has served in the Army Reserve for 14 of the 20 years he has been in the U.S. He`s currently a paralegal, working in casualty operations for the Army Reserve`s 99th Regional Support Command at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
"In 2006, when I needed a new position, my unit administrator told me to talk to this guy; he`s involved with the military funeral honors program, see what you can do," Ushomirsky said. Since then, he has mobilized twice with casualty operations.
"What I enjoy is that we provide a service to family members; it`s an honorable thing to do," he said. "We don`t deal with the family directly from this office, but you have to care because everything is short notice. Even if it`s two in the morning and the phone rings, when someone dies, you have to move."
Ushomirsky, who moved into the office at the 99th about a year ago, still remembers his first funeral.
"My first funeral, when I had to present the flag, I was trained. I knew what I had to do. I knew the speech I had to give, but then I looked into his eyes. My mind went blank. It was so emotional," he said.
The 99th RSC supports the casualty mission by providing support and assistance to families of soldiers and Department of the Army civilians reported as a casualty -- that is, deceased, missing or whereabouts unknown. Casualty operations personnel in the 99th RSC provide casualty notification and assistance, casualty escorts, retrieval and return of personal effects, and appropriate reporting to the Department of the Army throughout a 13-state region.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia