Veronika Kolomichuk never thought a television show would change her life. But this wasn’t just any show. This was M*A*S*H, one of the most popular TV sitcoms of all time. In the 1970s and 80s, an unprecedented number of Americans watched, laughed, and cried at the antics of the cast of M*A*S*H (acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital), where Army medics tried to save the lives of frontline soldiers in the Korean War. So when the M*A*S*H TV series came to an end in 1983, viewers across the country hosted epic parties for the series finale. Groups of people watched together while dressed up as their favorite characters, often wearing military fatigues.
At one such party, known as a Mash Bash, a young and handsome airman named Gary struck up a conversation with Veronika. He had recently taken up his first military assignment at Davis-Monthan AFB and was wearing his own uniform. He asked her to dance and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Veronika and Gary Kolomichuk moved to Washington, DC 14 years ago from Fayetteville, North Carolina where Gary had been stationed at Pope AFB and Veronika enjoyed the flexibility of self-employment. A large part of her family lives in Arizona including her transplanted Icelandic mother. Veronika’s mother was born in Siglufjörður, a small town on the north coast of Iceland. She later moved to Reykjavik and came in contact with US personnel at the navy base in Keflavik. There Veronika’s mother met her future husband. After getting married, they moved to the United States in 1959. Veronika made her appearance shortly after, in 1960. Today Veronika quips that although born in America, she was actually made in Iceland.
While in North Carolina, Veronika started digging into her Icelandic roots at Siglufjörður through the Internet. She kept discovering bits and pieces of information and even learned a smattering of the archaic language in the process. She also tried, without success, to find nearby Icelanders or persons of Icelandic descent to socialize with. Once she moved to DC, however, that scenario changed quickly. She found the website of the Icelandic Embassy which informed her about the existence of the Icelandic Association in Washington, DC.
Veronika has fond memories of the first time she attended the Icelandic Association’s Þorrablót in 2007. She gushes about the friendliness of Association members at the event and how they met her with open arms. She singles out the late Jóna Ásmundsdóttir, who took her under her wing and introduced her to other members of the Association.
While Veronika felt lucky to have found the Association, the Association was equally lucky to have found her. Within a short period of time she became a pillar of the group. She has served as its Vice President, Treasurer, and Director at Large. Additionally, her husband Gary has also served as the Association’s Treasurer. According to Veronika, Gary is the backbone of all physical work that needs to be done in the Association, including everything that requires heavy lifting, such as moving things to and from storage. He is also in charge of operating the audio equipment and fixing whatever technical problems that come up.
Veronika recently retired as a COVID-19 casualty from United Airlines, where she worked as a customer service representative. Gary retired a while ago from the Air Force after 21 years of service and more recently has retired from the Department of Defense as an IT Director.
The couple has four grown children. Their daughter lives in New York with her husband and four children. They also have three sons and two grandchildren, all living in Arizona.
In retirement, Veronika and Gary are moving to Arizona to join the family. While looking forward to the family reunion, Veronika wonders how somebody who enjoys the icy shores of Iceland is going to fare in the desert heat of Arizona.
In the meantime, the Icelandic Association’s President, Gunnar Birgisson, laments the fact that their departure means the Association will lose a large part of its essential crew.