If Linda Fedorko had to do it all over again, she’d go active military.
As it happened, the Brookfield resident served three years in the Army Reserves, but still is proud of her service, and that of other veterans, no matter how long they served.
In fact, she thinks military service should be mandatory.
“You’ll hear from me many times say, if a female would have to do one year active duty and a male have to do one year or two years active duty right out of high school, 18 years old, our country wouldn’t be in the state it’s in now, because of the respect, because of the discipline,” Fedorko said. “Our young people right now have no respect for their own parents, let alone a police officer or a military, even their own grandparents. These kids are just so disrespectful.”
Fedorko, 66, who filled a clerical duty role managing the points system used in determining retirement benefits, entered the army in 1975, just after graduating from what is now Kennedy Catholic High School in Hermitage.
“I always knew, at a younger age, that I wanted to be military,” Fedorko said. “I personally didn’t have a family attraction to it. It was just my lifestyle. I either wanted to be military or, I thought of police, because of my type of lifestyle, because of being gay. I wanted something that I would be proud of, something that I could excel in. (I) just thought I would do good there.”
Women were segregated from the men when she attended basic training at Fort McCullough, Ala., but she had a male drill instructor. Still, he could not enter the barracks until being told it was safe to do so. The women took advantage of that by assigning specific duties to barracks members, instead of each recruit dealing with their own area, she said.
“I did the scrubbing of the floors with the buffer, somebody else made the beds, somebody else did the footlockers,” Fedorko said. “He (drill instructor) didn’t know any of that because he wasn’t allowed in there. Whenever we allowed him in there, naturally, we passed inspection with flying colors.”
Although she had planned to go active duty, “At that point, they wanted to send me to Germany,” she said. “When I went in, I never even thought of Vietnam. At that point, it was near ending, but we were told that if we went to Germany that that was our holding point to be deployed to somewhere. At that point, Vietnam was being thrown around. I chose to stay reservist. Vietnam was over in August of that year. Do I regret it? Yeah, I wish I would have made a career out of it.”
She served at what is now the Pendel-Caminiti U.S. Army Reserve Center in Farrell.
Fedorko said she admires the sacrifices members of the military are willing to make.
“My biggest thing is people giving their lives for our country, for people they don’t even know,” she said. “They’re willing to go overseas right now and fight for a country that we don’t even know or don’t even care about.”
After her service, Fedorko went into advertising, briefly co-owned the former Southside Golden Dawn in Masury, helped out at her mother’s beauty shops, and worked at Delphi. She and her wife, Shawna, have a daughter and two grandsons.
Although not a member of any veteran’s organizations, she financially supports veteran’s causes, speaks out for better benefits for veterans and schools people on the proper displaying of the American flag.
“Somebody walks in here and has something identifying (military), I will buy their dinner for them,” she said during an interview at a local eatery. “It’s just taught me more respect for people in general.”