Upset and dismayed. Though not the emotions one usually feels when leaving Chapel, they describe what I felt after hearing guest speaker Jeremy Courtney on Feb. 17.
While I appreciate his overall message about helping Iraqi children, some of his statements concerned me. During his speech about his time in Iraq, he related stories of personal encounters with United States service members who said things like they felt “like a serial killer,” or “better to be judged by 12, than carried by six,” or “kill them all and let God sort them out.”
Had it been anywhere but the Chapel service at Baylor, I would have ignored his comments. However, he was speaking to my classmates and implying that the comments he had heard were representative of United States service members.
I am a retired member of the United States Air Force, having spent 20 years serving my country and being deployed nine times over a 10-year span in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
While I was not in a direct combat role, my duties were to load and maintain the weapons system on the aircraft that flew above Iraq and Afghanistan. Every time an aircraft came back to me without the weapons that I put on it, my first thought was not one of “Hurray, we killed someone!” It was, “I am glad I am here to make sure that the weapon didn’t hit a school, a hospital, a civilian’s home or the soldiers on the ground needing support.”
Being responsible sometimes means doing the things you don’t want to do. I know that some of the weapons I loaded on aircraft took human life. I do not see myself as a “serial killer,” however, but someone who took the responsibility to ensure that there were no chances for mishaps in such serious life and death situations. It was my duty. I do not like to be thanked for my service, for to me, duty doesn’t require thanks. I am proud to be a veteran.
Our actions in Afghanistan hopefully will prevent future tragedies like the one that hit our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. I regret that my fellow students in Chapel were misled and may possibly think that all service members have a “kill them all” mentality. Most do not.
I remember the night I took cover from rockets being launched at us in an aircraft holding yard. Eventually, I was able to move to a secure building that housed our combat medics. As I entered, someone yelled that a helicopter that was refueling had been hit. The combat medics in the building instantly grabbed their medical gear and headed out to help.
They didn’t care that that they were in the middle of a firefight. They did not care that the chopper hit was an Afghanistan helicopter carrying Afghani soldiers.
They went to help people that needed help without thought for their own safety because it was the right thing to do.
With my retirement, my military duty is complete. I have found my next path, which is why I am here at Baylor.
I ask only of my fellow students that when you see a veteran on campus do not judge him or her by the words of one speaker in Chapel. Talk to us and find out for yourself what we are like.
Lacy Lakeview freshman