Honoring Veterans: Military couple recall years of service

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It doesn’t have to be Veterans Day to honor those who’ve served.

We spoke with two military veterans from Albuquerque Sunday about the sacrifices they’ve made, and why we all need to be thankful for their bravery.

“Every time I took off, I didn’t know if I was coming back or not,” said retired Air Force Col. David Janik.

Their stories shed light on a life most of us will never understand.

Two Albuquerque Air Force veterans – a husband and wife came to see the New Mexico Veteran’s Memorial. They have almost 60 years of service between them.

The conflicts changed but their patriotism remained.

“You sacrifice. You don’t really think about it as a sacrifice at the time. Afterwards you realize what you missed,” said Janik. 

Janik was an Air Force fighter pilot. 

“It’s not only risking your life, it’s all the things you give up,” Janik said. “I missed many of my son’s events when he was in school.”

His wife is retired Lt. Col. Randee Kaiser. Her last stop was at Kirtland Air Force Base.

“Leave in the morning and might not come back that afternoon,” said Kaiser. “It is giving back, and what we have –it’s precious.”

There were many challenges, including withstanding how the public felt during the Vietnam War.

“People just hated the war, hated the government,” said Janik. “It was hard to stomach at times.” 

They’re glad sentiments have improved.

“People that probably spit on me in college in uniform were thanking me for my service,” Janik said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, and I think people understand more now about what the military does.”

Their service took them all over the world.

“You also realize what you contributed,” said Janik. “It gives me a good feeling knowing I played a part in that.”

And today, we thank them and all those who’ve served.