Veterans Day is a holiday celebrated each year by Americans who live all over the world. This year, many Concordia students and faculty members took time to think back on their experiences in the military and how those experiences changed them as members of the United States’ society.
Senior Mike Lamon has been in an infantry company in the National Guard for 5 1/2 years and is currently serving as a squad leader. Being in the military has taught Lamon many things about the world.
“I learned that issues that we deal with in the United States generally aren’t as big a concern as people make them out to be, especially in comparison to what people of other nations have to deal with or that we [soldiers] have to deal with overseas,” he said.
Professor Peter Hovde also spent time serving in the military. From 1963 to 1970, Hovde was a naval flight officer for five years active and for a couple of years reserve. People would have to search high and low to find a job as great as his, Hovde said.
“We would fly people and materials to places all over the place, including Vietnam,” he said. “[Vietnam] was a sideshow when I started in the military and it really got rockin’ when I was out in Hawaii.”
Hovde graduated from Luther College and started out in the business world. When he realized that wasn’t his passion, he rekindled his childhood love for airplanes and aviation and in doing so, discovered the military.
“It was a life-changing experience,” Hovde said. “Being in the military and seeing a war, I had kind of an unusual view of the war. I saw a little bit of it on the ground with a few scrapes with bullets. I got to see it in the air from the command side.”
Senior Mark Sell was also in the army from 1993 to 1997. Sell was a general medical officer overseas in South Korea for two years and in Kuwait for five months. He said it was very interesting to be in South Korea during the mid 1990s.
“My experience was more the threat of war,” Sell said. “It was a very tense time in Korea. It was very real even though I didn’t get a bomb shot at me. In Kuwait it was very concerning, more concerned than Saddam. We were sitting ducks for terrorists because we were in tents, sitting in the desert, for many months. You could easily take out many Americans at once, so there was the heightened threat of violence.”
Senior Constant Maninga is another Concordia student who was in the infantry in the Army National Guard. After being trained in Georgia and later in Mississippi, Maninga spent about 16 months in Iraq and a week in Kuwait doing patrols, raids and providing security for construction workers and engineers.
“At first I got there and you give people the benefit of the doubt,” Maninga said. “Everyone’s the same you just gotta treat them with dignity and respect. It was tough when the people you try to work with also work with people who are trying to kill you.”
Maninga believes he was able to better himself as an individual by being in the military.
“You’re not going to get the best out of everything out of the military, but it really opens your eyes about the world,” Maninga said. “I’m a lot more focused and more driven to do things in life, more driven to make a difference than I was before. You see so many things. You want to be different and you want to make the difference.”
Senior George Hauser has also been part of the Minnesota Guard since 2003. Hauser has been in Iraq as part of an infantry brigade where he helped guard towers and roads, did patrols and searched for improvised explosive devices.
He was deployed after completing only two years of college.
“It really made me a better student,” Hauser said. “Coming back was like walking into a fire hydrant that was opened up. There was a wash of information. After a month I got my bearings and it felt like I had never left. I’m very thankful to have this experience.”
Senior Kathleen Hiersche joined the military halfway through her freshman year in 2004, and in September 2005, she was sent on an 18 month deployment to Iraq. Her battalion was extended for another four months, so her total deployment ended up being 22-23 months. She is now in the Minnesota National Guard and participates in weekend drills in Moorhead.
In the military, Hiersche worked on equipment to help extend the line of communication out from radios. As administrative assitant to the chief of staff, who is second in command in the brigade of 3500 troops, Hiersche was able to work on her administrative skills and listen to the way things work in an everyday schedule.
“I learned so much doing that,” she said.
Hiersche values her time spent in the military.
“As time goes by, you only remember the good stuff,” she said. “Everybody I work with in the military, we formed a family unit. We are each other’s brothers and sisters and we will protect each other.”
I’m a senior at Concordia graduating in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Journalism is my life and my passion, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.