Jason Krawczyk, a 2002 graduate of Scio High School, really had no idea what he wanted to do following graduation. Three months later, he made the commitment of a lifetime. After sitting his parents, James and Debbie, down at their Scio area home, young Krawczyk announced to his stunned parents that he had joined the US Army and would be working as a journalist.
“I think ‘surprise’ at Jason’s enlistment announcement would be a great understatement,” said James recently. “Utter disbelief may not even come close to my feelings.”
Jason Krawczyk’s decision was a surprise on several fronts. According to James, the family had little or no history of military service, plus, “The war in Iraq was at full throttle, why would anyone want to enlist at this time?”
As surprised as they were, the couple fully supported their son’s decision.
James was worried when Jason shipped out.
“I was a mess when he left for boot camp.” His son’s attitude helped the father. “His strength forced me to look at this experience as nothing but positive.” According to James, Jason focused only on the being the best he could be.
“He left with no regrets – only with anticipation for the future.”
After being officially sworn in on Halloween 2002, Krawczyk was off to Fort Knox for his basic training. He received special training at Fort Meade, Md. at the Defense Information School.
“There, I obtained my training as a Public Affairs Specialist,” Krawczyk wrote recently. Five years later, and a tour of Afghanistan later, he was promoted in rank to staff sergeant.
Krawczyk was trained as a soldier and as a journalist but, according to his own words, “It was up to me to fill in the rest.”
Having served in Afghanistan and better training helped Krawczyk’s unit in Iraq be better prepared.
“It’s a thin line we walk between soldier and journalist but in the heat of battle all lines disappear and all that matters is the people around you.”
“There’s no room for fear,” he said about what happens when people start shooting. “Anything can happen any time.”
One of his most frightening encounters happened in Afghanistan. “I was 50 yards from getting on a helicopter that crashed after takeoff killing everyone aboard.”
The reason he missed the helicopter was because he was doing his job as a journalist. “A medic told me he had a story for me if I wanted to hang around so I dropped my bags and did the story that saved my life.”
After the crash occurred, the initial story was forgotten. “We packed up and headed right to the crash site,” he said. “It was really hard helping the medics try and save people and retrieve bodies, knowing that you were almost one of them.”
While war, as they say, is hell, sometimes there is a silver lining that makes up for the terror and sadness associated with it. In Krawczyk’s case, it was meeting up with a pair of old school friends.
He knew Bryce Peery and David Vinton were in Iraq but not where. One day he spotted a redheaded guy shaving. “It was Bryce.”
Chief Peery’s job was to fly the general that Krawczyk was assigned to photograph so the two were able to stay in touch. In fact, when Krawczyk was promoted to staff sergeant, it was Peery, who graduated a year later than Krawczyk, who pinned the pin on him. Later, both posed for a photo on top of one of Saddam’s palaces.
Currently Krawczyk is not working as a journalist.
“I’m the photographer for the Multi-National Corps – Iraq commanding general.”
While his writing is on hold, the assignment does allow him to travel throughout the country.
He enjoys his military service, but he still thinks of his home – Scio. He recalls his years growing up with his friends, Friday night football games, hanging out and being part of the community.
“Take care, Scio, and don’t go changing.”
Krawczyk has yet to decide if the military will become his career. Whatever happens, his parents will be behind him. James noted that the choice is his son’s to make.
“As a father, I still give him my two cents, but whatever his choice is, he has my full support.”