CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - A glimmer in his eyes, quick wit and a ready smile glowed on Army Sgt. Shawn Crum's face filling the television screen during a video conference call here Nov. 20 with his fellow Detachment 1, Company C, 1-169th Aviation of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Crum's unit is currently stationed in Kosovo as part of the NATO-led peacekeeping mission Kosovo Forces 14 while Crum himself is recovering at home. Currently in remission and at the start of follow-on care, Crum was unable to deploy with his unit after being diagnosed with cancer.
While the room of 19 soldiers reminisced about memories of Crum's antics and jovial personality, Army Sgt. Matthew Hessler commented that while Crum hasn't been present in Kosovo, he has been part of the mission.
"He's been on his deployment, fighting his own battle," Hessler said.
When the video connection was ready for both parties, the aviators in Kosovo informed Crum they had raised over $3,500 for him through a raffle drawing. The money will be sent to Crum to support him and his family during the financially difficult time.
Crum was visibly surprised upon hearing the news but quickly returned to his signature joking style by making light of his situation.
It was abundantly clear on the faces, and through the words of the soldiers, that Crum is a member of their family. The honor of taking care of one of their own whenever called upon is why they do what they do.
Future plans were discussed for parties upon the unit's return home, summer camping trips and barbecues.
The relief and appreciation that Crum will be around to make more memories with his friends was palpable and the lighthearted teasing simply served to strengthen an already unbreakable bond that service members share.