ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’re a loyal News 6 viewer, you may have noticed a member of our team was off the air for several weeks in April.
News 6 reporter Brian Didlake took some time away from television news because he had a training deployment for the Army Reserve. Brian is a specialist currently assigned to the public affairs division.
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“It’s balancing two lives at once,“ Brian said. “Honestly, it means everything to me. I grew up with the military, and it’s all I know. Serving the military is also serving in the family tradition. My mom and dad, grandparents, great-grandparents did.”
Brian has been serving in the Army for more than 7 years with training deployments each year, ranging anywhere from weeks to months.
“Leaving is always a challenge because when you’re dropping everything, you’re truly dropping everything,” Brian said. “Being away from loved ones and the career, it’s hard. The physical requirements can truly be something to test your patience and perseverance.”
Most recently, Brian was deployed to Indiana, checking in to the News 6 morning pitch meetings virtually in full army gear.
“I left for two weeks for annual training. That is basically an elongated training program where once a year, units get together and do what’s called play training. You put yourself in a real life situation and find ways to maneuver the situation whether it be responding to a nuclear attack, chemical attack or terroristic threat overseas or at home,” Brian said.
Brian, working in the public affairs division, recently shared the stories of U.S. soldiers training for a nuclear response.
“It’s kind of scary thinking about the gravity of the type of training we do because if something does happen in the states, we’d be the first to go,” Brian said.
Growing up in a military family, Brian said he’s moved around a bit, living in Germany, Georgia and Louisiana, where he was born. He shares his southern roots through cooking (which he loves to do). When Brian first started working at News 6, he brought homemade Gumbo for the entire newsroom.
“Gumbo is a special dish for me and my family because it’s something I’ve always seen my grandparents make this certain dish to bring people together,” Brian said.
A love he also shares with the men and women he serves with in the Army Reserve.
“It’s a family. Any type of service, it’s always a big family,” Brian said. “If anyone wants to join the Army or military, I encourage you to do so. I’ve met healthcare professionals, I’ve met lawyers, I’ve met sports people, who serve their country and have their professional career.”
Brian said being in the Army Reserve is not easy. There are mental and physical challenges that go along with it.
“There’s definitely some hard times, but it’s worth it. It truly is worth it because that satisfaction to be able to serve our country is amazing,” Brian said. “Something they teach you in basic training is to be prepared for the unexpected and to be prepared to give your life for this country, and it’s something I’ll always be proud to do because we are the land of the free and home of the brave.”