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For one local family, life in the Kentucky Army National Guard has quickly turned into a family tradition, highlighted by Michael Osbourne and his brother, Frank, whose four sons were recently sent on the same deployment.
Michael and Donna Osbourne’s oldest son, Bradley, and Frank and Sherri Osbourne’s youngest, Frankie, left for the African nation of Djibouti on Oct. 16, joining Bradley’s brother, Benjamin, and Frankie’s brother, Stephen, who also departed in recent weeks.
The four are on the same mission as part of the second battalion - 138th field artillery, with Stephen representing the headquarters battery in Lexington and the rest serving from the C battery in Bardstown.
Michael said his sons and nephews were deployed as part of a security mission in Djibouti, and that it should be a good place to serve what is the first deployment for all four.
“The good thing about the mission in Djibouti is that you don’t hear about them in the news and we’ve got good relations with that country,” Michael said. “There’s not a lot of al-Qaeda presence or terroristic activities, so it’s going to be a pretty good mission for them. It’ll keep them pretty busy, but it will also give them good experience.”
Michael (joined in 1980) and Frank (joined in 1976) have each put in more than 30 years of service with the national guard, with Frank retiring this past summer and Michael awaiting his status to be determined following an injury in Afghanistan in 2010. Now, they’ve each seen two sons choose a similar path with an eye on moving up the ranks.
“It makes me proud to know that they’re going to carry on a tradition of service that me and Frank have been a part of,” Michael said. “It’s great to see them all trying to get promoted and work with their units in hopes of having a successful mission.”
When it came to the younger generation getting involved with the National Guard, Michael and Frank didn’t need to urge their sons to take the same path they did.
“I don’t really think we pushed it on them or anything, but I think they saw where we received a lot of enjoyment from serving and I guess they kind of just picked it up too,” Michael said. “There’s other reasons that they had, I’m sure, and benefits were part of it too.”
Some of those benefits are financial, training and especially in education, even more so than other branches of the military. Whatever personal reasons each member had for joining the guard, Michael said he thinks they’ll all come away grateful for the experience.
“Frank and I kind of joined up back in the day when there were a lot people from Springfield in the unit here. We had several friends that had joined,” he said. “With the boys, a lot of the people in the unit they’ve never met before. But they’ll grow closer to them and those bonds are something you carry with you the rest of your life.”
As for the mission at hand, Michael and Frank -- both veterans of Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991 -- know the kind of challenges their sons will face overseas, even though they’re not reporting to a violent area.
“Deployments are life-changing events that really teach you to appreciate things you have back home in civilian life,” Michael said. “They’re going somewhere the average temperature is over 100 degrees. It’ll really test them physically and mentally.”
Michael said he expects the battalion to return home next July or August, and said the community’s support is the main thing that makes deployments like this one a little easier.
“We really appreciate the support from the community. The prayers and well-wishes we get really makes us feel good that people back home are supporting us. It just makes it that much easier, because it is tough,” he said last Tuesday. “Today is a tough day with the last of the boys heading out, and if it hadn’t been for the support and prayers from family and friends, it would be really tough.”