As a Marine combat engineer with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, John Gibson’s job was to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, place and clear obstacles, lay out concertina wire and build bunkers. This essential, physical and tactile combat zone work not only requires close attention to detail but also an understanding of how the lives of fellow servicemembers rely on your skill. The sights, sounds and intense memories of combat left a deep impression on Gibson ’20, one that he invites others to experience through his immersive art exhibition, “A Sapper’s Abyss.”
Happy Holidays from the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs!
Lieutenant Donald R Waful ’37, G’39 kept a journal during part of the “3 Christmases and 3 birthdays” he spent behind enemy lines. Captured by the German army and held captive from 1942-44, Waful recorded details of daily life, diversions the prisoners employed to pass the time, and his burgeoning love for Cassie, the enlisted nurse he’d become engaged to weeks before his capture.Lieutenant Donald R Waful ’37, G’39 kept a journal during part of the “3 Christmases and 3 birthdays” he spent behind enemy lines. Captured by the German army and held captive from 1942-44, Waful recorded details of daily life, diversions the prisoners employed to pass the time, and his burgeoning love for Cassie, the enlisted nurse he’d become engaged to weeks before his capture.
Growing up in a family where many have served in the Air Force, Army, and Navy, military history is something that intrigues me. Last year, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic arriving in the United States, my husband Ryan (who serves in the Army National Guard) and I visited the islands of Kauai and Oahu in Hawaii. My brother-in-law currently serves active-duty in the Army and was stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at the time, so he brought us around the base to show us all the history – including the USS Arizona Memorial. I visited the USS Arizona Memorial back in 2001 (prior to 9/11) when my parents, both retired U.S. Air Force veterans, brought me there and I remember how moving it was; however, seeing it 18 years later had a whole new meaning for me.
United States Air Force Master Sergeant Joseph Hernon joined the Air Force Reserve in 2004 as to be an Aerospace Maintenance Journeyman in the 439th Airlift Wing, Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. In 2008, Sergeant Hernon crossed trained into his current specialty of Emergency Management assigned to the 174th Attack Wing, Hancock Field, Syracuse. In 2010-2011 he deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While Ernie Davis ’62 attended Syracuse University more than 60 years ago, he remains a campus legend who broke barriers as the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. While he is known as a football star whose life was cut short by his battle with leukemia, many aren’t aware that Davis has a connection to the military as well. When he wasn’t busy playing football, he was a candidate in the University’s Army ROTC program and was commissioned as a second lieutenant following graduation. Due to his illness, he never got the chance to serve his nation outside of the ROTC program.
Jared Lyon, president and CEO of Student Veterans of America, and His Journey to Syracuse University and Beyond.
When Jennifer Vollbrecht returned from serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, she wasn’t sure what her next step would be. Now the owner and primary consultant at J Vollbrecht Consulting, Inc., Vollbrecht’s path to entrepreneurship started with the skills and traits she developed during her military service.
Shanon Meeks knows these challenges firsthand. Originally from South Korea, she met her now-husband while he was stationed there. After they married and returned to the U.S., she recalls having difficulty figuring out what she wanted to do for work. “When I first came to the U.S., I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she says. “Even though I spoke English as my second language, it seemed difficult to find opportunities for myself.”
Transitioning from military life back into civilian life can be extremely challenging for veterans. It can be even more difficult when veterans return from duty to continue their education at a higher education institution. This is where Scott Taylor steps in.