2nd Lt. Alex Rozanski is in the Ohio National Guard and an eight-year Marine Corps veteran. [National Veterans Memorial and Museum photo]

2nd Lt. Alex Rozanski: Finishing what brother started

Alex Rozanski can’t be sure of all the forces that led him to join the Ohio National Guard in 2011. There were the mundane reasons of paying off bills, but after his brother, Nick, was killed in Afghanistan in April 2012, he thinks there was something else — something heavenly — at play.

“It’s (God’s) way of saying you need to finish his career for him," said Rozanski, 38, of Marysville.

And so he has. Rozanski, an eight-year Marine Corps veteran who did a seven-month tour in Iraq in 2005 and left as a sergeant, went back to college to earn enough credits to qualify for Officer Candidate School.

Rozanski, whose story is featured in exhibits on taking the oath of service and on returning home from war in the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, completed the 18-month program and is now an officer in the Ohio National Guard. He is a second lieutenant. His brother, Nick, was a captain.

Rozanski's mission now is raising a family and carrying his brother’s torch.

On Aug. 3, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded about 100 yards behind the vehicle Rozanski was driving, his mission was securing a bridge in Western Iraq, even though he was wondering who, if anyone, was hit.

Scores of Marines were hit, he'd learn. Fourteen were killed, including nine members of Rozanski's Lima Company. In all, Lima Company lost 23 men 2005.

But his commander told them to not lose sight of the mission.

"Don't let what happened stop you, there’s still a mission to complete," he said.