Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

November 8, 2013

It’s a family tradition

Four sons all serve in the United States Marines

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — The four brothers in photos above the rock fireplace are wearing midnight blue uniforms.

The men in those pictures are all current or former Marines.

All of Glenn and Bonnie Debiak’s children decided to join that branch of the military.

Matt, now 39, and Mark, now 36, went into the service together. Five weeks after Matt joined, he had to take care of a physical problem, so he left temporarily. Two years later, Matt went back in with Josh, now 32. Luke, now 24, is currently a Marine.

Even though Glenn and his father were in the Navy, Glenn was surprised that all of his boys decided to join the armed forces.  

“I didn’t expect it,” Glenn said. “Just one day, Mark and a neighbor boy came up and said, ‘Dad, we want to be in the Marines.’ But [our boys] always knew we had a respect for the service man. Teaching them God was first was the first thing we taught them and then we taught them that their country and their fellow man was important.”

Matt, a former Sargent, was 23 the first time he joined. Josh, a former Staff Sargent, was a Marine seven months after he graduated from high school.  Mark, a former Corporal, went to tech school and worked for a short period of time before he went into the service. Luke, a current Sargent in Okinawa, Japan, finished a year of community college and then joined the military.  

“When Mark went in, the wars weren’t started,” Glenn said. “He graduated from boot camp in ‘98. Matt spent two terms over in Iraq. Josh spent two terms in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. Luke has been to Afghanistan.”

The war was the hardest time for the Debiak family, Bonnie said.

“We’re proud of them,” Bonnie said. “It was a real rough time. But they’re OK. And that is what’s important.”

When Matt and Josh were deployed in Iraq, the family received a tremendous amount of aid, Bonnie said.

“People would bring in stuff [at JCPenney, where I worked] to make them care packages,” Bonnie said. “And one of the young fellows who worked in the catalog department actually worked at the Pittsburgh Zoo and put a sign up at the zoo and he brought in three huge bags of stuff at one time for us to send over. So we had a lot, a lot of stuff to send to the kids. Not just to ours. They shared everything that was sent to them. It was just a wonderful support system between the store, the school, our church.”

Glenn said his sons have some mental trauma due to their experiences overseas.

“Like most guys who come back from the war, they have some issues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Glenn said. “Not Luke, though. But Luke didn’t see as much action as Matt and Josh. Josh was actually going into a building in Iraq when the Sargent in front of him got killed. That was close. Matt had a couple near-death experiences ... If I’m not mistaken, Matt was one of the first guys across the bridge [during the war] in Iraq, in Baghdad.”

Bonnie said their sons have also sustained physical injuries.

“Well, they all have knee problems, for one thing,” Bonnie said. “But that’s kind of typical for the Marine Corp. Josh has some shrapnel in his neck. Matt was injured, but nothing devastating, you know. Bumps and bruises and being blown back 20-25 feet.”

Glen said citizens of the United States need to appreciate what all the branches of the military have done for this country.

“These kids fought for freedom, for people,” he said “They did what they believed was right by their country, by their parents, by their peers. So they did what was right and they did it courageously. And the people who are sitting back at home and just taking it for granted, they gotta wake up.”

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