This week, as we observe Veterans Day, there are a number of campus events dedicated to the men and women who have served our country in uniform. (Visit Vetweek_flyer1 for a full schedule.) We also get two days off, rather than the customary one, which provides even more time to reflect on the sacrifices made by women and men of the armed forces.
“Veterans Day is special to me, because it is a day we celebrate and honor all of those who served,” says Lieutenant Colonel Eric Farquharson, chair of the Department of Military Science. “Memorial Day is significant, because it is the day we honor those you paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and we spend that day attending ceremonies at cemeteries or listening honor rolls being called for those who gave their life serving their country during a time of war. However, Veterans Day is a celebration of service that honors all who gave time out of their lives to serve a country during war and peace. During Veterans Day you can shake the hand of a vet male or female, young or old, and tell them you appreciate their service. It is a day to say ‘Thank You.’”
Here at SU, we need not look far for veterans to thank. Many of our students are veterans. (RELATED COVERAGE: Learn more about the university's effort to better serve student veterans by visiting Veterans Working Group Q&A.) Other veterans work right here alongside us. At the invitation of The Commons, some of our colleagues graciously reflected on their days in the service and what they have taken away from the experience. Here’s what they shared.
Denis Puls, facilities manager, Facilities:
“I served in the U.S. Army from 1969 until 1993 (Vietnam, “Cold War” and Desert Storm veteran). I spent the majority of career in Europe (Germany) in Air Defense Artillery maintaining Nike and Chaparral missile systems. My biggest take-away was the opportunity to teach those that followed me to continue the mission.”
Dan Doyle, assistant professor, Matteo Ricci College:
Service to Country
Following is a still-evolving list of faculty and staff who served or are serving in the armed forces. If you served and would like to be included on the list, please send your information to The Commons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Bean, English, Army
I arrived in Vietnam just in time for the Tet Offensive and was among those Marines who were surrounded at Khe Sanh for 77 days during that time. After being liberated from that siege I served the rest of my tour in the country as a recon medic going out on patrols with 5-7 Marines. I spent 13 months in Vietnam with the Marines.
Though I joined the Navy, I have always identified more with the Marines and am proud of my association with them. The young Marines I served with were good people who served with honor and dignity in the face of the political tenor of the times. We were never welcomed home, and I believe the nation has never really come to a resolution or closure about that war. We are a generation of veterans unlike any who went to war before us, or who have come home after us. We have suffered much over the years, but we knew that sacrifice came with the territory. Though none of us would argue for war, we were proud to serve the nation.”
John Foster, S.J., executive assistant to the dean, Matteo Ricci College:
“Served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Alaska Communications System, 1953-1956 (Korean War truce June 1953); Basic and Tech training in Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif.; stationed on Adak in the Aleutian Islands 1954-1955 and the (old) Federal Office Building (headquarters).
I had never known anyone to shout obscenities at me before, as did the Army drill sergeants, and it scared the (timidity) out of me and turned me from an absolute introvert to a mild extrovert.
As for Adak, we were told there were girls behind every tree and got there to find there were no trees on the island, just barren tundra grass, except when the most beautiful miniscule orchid-like flowers bloomed during the summer—both weeks! You get the idea...
Lots of friends, however, including one who came up to SU from San Francisco two years ago for my 50th jubilee as a Jesuit.”
Rob Deltete, professor philosophy:
"I served in the US Navy from 1970 to 1973, which included a tour in Vietnam (1971-1973). I was the Combat Information Center (CIC) officer on a destroyer for 22 months, and then operations officer when we returned to port to prepare the ship for de-commissioning and transfer it to the South Korean navy in 1973. I was discharged at rank of lieutenant.
I didn't know what I was getting into when I was forced to into military service by a low lottery number in 1969. That was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to graduate school, and the ’69 lottery derailed all that. Military service changed me. In retrospect, I think, for the better.”
John Schrader, building controls technician, Facilities:
“I served in the U.S. Air Force 1981 to 85. It was what I needed at the time as I was needing to be more grounded (I had 12 jobs in one year prior to serving in the Air Force) and it did just that. I think that the Air Force gave me the foundation with which to build the rest of my life. I have no regrets and some fond memories from those days.
Thank you for recognizing all those, not just here at SU, who have served in our armed forces. They are all heroes, even those that never served in time of war, as they never knew when they might be called to duty or where.”
Dave Madsen, associate professor of history:
“I served in the U.S. Army from July 1969 until February 1972. I did my basic training at Fort Lewis, language training in Polish at DLIWC in Monterrey, Calif., and the rest of my time in the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion in Munich, Germany. I left the service with the rank of Specialist 5 (equivalent of sergeant and a rank which, I am told, no longer exists).
Best/strongest memories? Getting a draft notice and a graduate school fellowship in the same day’s mail, friends who got me through basic training, my Drill Sergeant McKinney, my very first flight on an airplane (I was 22 years old), my best friend to this day (whom I met at Monterrey), and the opportunity to live, work and travel in Europe—far from the jungles and violence of Vietnam. Cost me an extra year in service but was totally worth it.”
Rob Bourke, assistant director of annual giving and alumni relations, Albers:
“I served as a bridge officer on a Navy destroyer during the period of the first Gulf War. I left active duty service after four years as a lieutenant.
While attending the Arrupe Seminar last year, I learned that Audrey Hudgins had been involved in a rescue operation that I had participated in as well during the Gulf War in 1991. Her military intelligence units spotted some people stranded on a small island in the gulf. My ship was informed of the intelligence and I helped coordinate the operation to investigate and rescue those people using our helicopters and Navy SEAL unit.”
Audrey Hudgins, academic advisor and instructor, College of Arts and Sciences:
“My service (in the Army) taught me the value of being a good friend when it matters most, the necessity of a moral compass in challenging situations, and the importance of being a reliable team player in pursuit of a common cause. Service in all its forms—to God, to country, to others—carries with it endless possibilities for a better self and a better world.”
Do you have a message of gratitude you'd like to share with our colleagues who served in the armed forces? Post a comment below.