Veterans Day: In their own words
This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Cross & Crescent Magazine.
As we celebrate our independence this July, we asked our military brothers to tell us how Lambda Chi Alpha has helped shape their values and leadership skills. Below is a collection of the responses we have received so far. If you’d like to share your military and Lambda Chi Alpha experiences, please post a comment at the bottom of this story or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would like to thank all of those brothers who serve in the Canadian and United States military and pay tribute to all of the brothers who have been injured or lost their lives fighting for our freedoms and safety.
Jordan Carpenter (Alabama)
I was initiated in 2005 into the brotherhood of the Alpha-Phi chapter at the University of Alabama and served as the High Rho (alumni chairman) in 2006. In December 2006 I enlisted in the United States Army as a psychological operations specialist and left both school and the chapter. After 16 months of training, I deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for eight months in support of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan. After returning home (stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina) for six months, I deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, for seven months. I never forgot the lessons I learned as an associate member, brother, and leader in my Fraternity. I incorporated the meanings of our mottoes and the lessons learned from my big brothers into my service as a junior enlisted soldier and then as a leader with subordinates of my own. Today, I am a sergeant in the Army Reserve and again a full-time student at the University of Alabama. Though I am not an active member of Alpha-Phi, I use the leadership skills I learned as a Lambda Chi and a soldier in my position as president of the University of Alabama Campus Veterans Association.
Charlie Johnston (Southeastern Oklahoma)
I am currently at Camp Gruber in Braggs, Oklahoma, for pre-mobilization training. I am with the Oklahoma National Guard and assigned to the 120th Engineer Battalion. We are deploying in just a few short months to Afghanistan. Lambda Chi Alpha has enabled me to improve my leadership skills by leaps and bounds, which has helped advance my military career. I was initiated at the Pi-Sigma chapter in Spring 2010.
Doug Keown (Ohio)
I am currently serving in the Navy working for USCENTCOM. I was in the Middle East during my mobilization from February 2007 to February 2008. I have the good fortune to be working in Orlando right now, supporting operations in the Middle East. I also have the pleasure of being the High Pi (chapter advisor) at the Theta-Gamma Colony at Rollins College. Both of these positions are extremely rewarding. The opportunity to help keep our country safe is a blessing. The Navy values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment are ones I learned many years ago while an undergraduate at Ohio University and part of the Alpha-Omega Zeta. I find the blending of the Navy’s values and the fraternity’s seven core values to be interchangeable. The young men in the Theta-Gamma Colony remind me of why this country is great and worth protecting and fighting for. They are a great group of guys with a very bright future. I am honored to be a part of our military and a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha.
David Martinson (Central Florida)
I am currently serving in the U.S. Air Force as the deputy commander, 90th Operations Group , F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. My group operates 15 nuclear launch control centers and 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. Prior to this assignment I was the commander of the 319th Missile Squadron, directly responsible to the President of the United States for the positive control and execution of 50 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. My wartime service was in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2007. I was the director of the Iraqi equivalent of the Secret Service, responsible for protecting Iraq’s top seven leaders. My experiences in Lambda Chi Alpha afforded me a solid foundation of leadership, ethics, teamwork, and dedication. I will always be grateful for the character-building experiences I had in Lambda Chi.
Matthew Priest (Tennessee-Chattanooga)
I am in the Zeta-Phi Chapter at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I am currently the High Rho (alumni chairman), but am taking another year off from school to serve our country. I leave for Afghanistan later this year. I served in Iraq in 2009, in Baghdad and Basra. Included is a photo of my friend Clayton Smith and me in Basra, Iraq. He is a part of the University of Alabama chapter and one of the main reasons I joined the Lambda Chi Alpha family when we returned home.
Michael Roberts (South Carolina-Aiken)
I’m a brother from the Pi-Alpha chapter. I’m currently on month 15 of this deployment and have one more month to go. After I left Iraq in December I moved to Kuwait to conduct shipboard operations protecting ships in the Arabian Gulf. My unit redeployed back to the states in May, but I stayed to do a short tour at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) in Qatar.
Richard A. Vickery III (Wyoming)
I am a founding father of the Wyoming chapter. I am currently a major and the senior intelligence analyst for the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center. I served two years in Afghanistan as the special intelligence advisor to the deputy chief of staff. I conducted over 70 combat missions in support of compartmentalized operations across the country, and ran around the country for three months with a broken wrist because I couldn’t get to a decent hospital. I was exempt from wearing a uniform and was required to grow a beard as part of my duties. I have found that the positive messages in Lambda Chi Alpha and leadership lessons have had a daily impact on how I conduct myself and trust in my fellow man.
Lorenzo A. Villa (Texas-El Paso)
I am from the Zeta-Epsilon chapter at the University of Texas-El Paso. Our chapter has a very strong military presence and background. Currently we have four combat veterans that served in Iraq or Afghanistan or both. The others are Roman Sandoval, Orlando Sandoval, and Wayne Landry. We have two active duty U.S. Army officers: 1LT John Kluesner and 2LT Manny Del Castillo, as well as active duty enlisted members: U.S. Air Force Airman A1C Miguel Acosta, U.S. Army CWO Brandon Tipton, U.S. Navy Seaman Xavier Vasquez, and U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Jesus Acosta. We have two brothers who are leaving our chapter: Justin Doreck is going to West Point and Matthew Murphy is going into the U.S. Navy. I am proud of all of them, and God Bless America in ZAX.
Bryant Vogt (Ferris State)
I am an infantryman in the U.S. Army. I was in Afghanistan for 12 months from March 2011 to March 2012. I was in Kunar Province, RC East. The included pictures were taken at OP Avalanche, which sits on a ridge line, watching FOB Blessing in the Pech River Valley. I was at Ferris State University’s Iota-Psi chapter. The brotherhood has been a lifetime experience I’ll never forget. One of the first things I do when I go home is spend time with my brothers.