“As soon as he got home, it felt like he had never left.”

“Over winter break, my brother, Rick Pizzala, came home from Camp Leonard Wood in Missouri. After four and a half months of extensive Marine training and traveling, I got to see my brother as well as surprise others in my family with him coming back. Most importantly, we were able to surprise our mom too. I think that was the greatest thing that truly made my winter break special. I know my mom was upset about the thought of not seeing my brother at Christmas, but having the opportunity to surprise her and bring him home was amazing. As soon as he got home, it felt like he had never left. I went through a lot while he was gone and finally having the opportunity to sit down and talk to him in person was a nice feeling. I was extremely grateful that he was able to come home.

Rick graduated from Caledonia High School in 2020. Since he was little, he always had an interest in the military as a whole and he showed it as he grew up. My brother isn’t vocal about most things, but when it comes to the Marines, he showed passion about wanting to serve our country and be involved in everything that goes into it. My family and I knew for a while that he planned on going into the Marines. I was supportive of him even though I knew I would miss him. My parents supported what he wanted to do as well. I think the biggest concern they had was him staying safe.

It was difficult for me during the first month Rick was gone. Without him, our house felt empty and it wasn’t hectic like what I was used to. While my brother was in South Carolina for Marine Corps boot camp, I started my first year of school at Caledonia High School. I was upset that I wasn’t able to have him at home to talk to about school, and I couldn’t call him because he wasn’t allowed to use a phone or have one while there. Despite this, I felt lucky about being able to write him a letter about how it went, even though I got his letter back a couple weeks later. After the first month of him being gone, I didn’t find myself upset anymore because I realized no one was around to irritate me like he used to. I practically had a house to myself. My family had managed to adjust to the change of Rick being gone. After a while, it became normal to us. We all have our own routine now and it works pretty well.

Sadly, Rick left for Missouri at the end of winter break. He’ll graduate from Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (CBRN) after about four more months of training. After his graduation, he’ll travel to Japan, Hawaii, or somewhere else in the United States for extended training. Wherever he goes, I’m hoping I’ll be able to visit him.”

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