COUDERSPORT — When John Orlowski enlisted in the United States Army in 1983, he said he was looking for a change of scenery.
“I thought it was an opportunity to go somewhere other than Coudersport,” Orlowski said.
After graduating from Coudersport High School, Orlowski went to boot camp at Fort Benning in Georgia. He said he remembers his time there well.
“I was excited,” Orlowski said. “It was something different. You were always doing something and learning something different — the military way.”
Orlowski said he remembers how structured his 13 weeks were and how physically fit his instructors were.
“They were hard on us, but they were fair to us,” Orlowski said.
Ultimately, Orlowski said he made it through boot camp “one day at a time,” by obeying orders and keeping quiet.
After boot camp, Orlowski went to Bamberg, Germany for 18 months. When he wasn’t sight seeing or learning to ski, he did border patrol and trained with soldiers from other European countries.
“It was kind of like a mock war game,” Orlowski said.
Orlowski finished his service in 1986 at Fort Lois, in Washington. During his three years, Orlowski was awarded the Good Conduct medal, the AIT badge, an overseas ribbon and two Army commendations.
Once back in civilian life, Orlowski said he visited with friends and family, and joined the American Legion. Orlowski has served as commander with the Coudersport American Legion for 10 years and participates in community events sponsored by the organization, as well as goes to Harrisburg every year on MIA/POW Day to read names.
His life in the military has impacted his life today also; besides learning discipline and structure, Orlowski’s daughter has also enlisted with the army, currently serving in Germany. Orlowski said he appreciates his brothers and sisters in uniform, even to this day.
“The ladies and gentlemen that are in now and have been deserve the praise and honor for the sacrifices they’ve made,” Orlowski said.