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Three soldiers tell why they serve
Three soldiers tell why they serveNovember 26, 2007Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Three U.S. servicemen who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan will speak at Syracuse University on Friday, Nov. 30. Tech. Sgt. Mark DeCorte of the U.S. Air Force, Cpl. Sean Henry of the U.S. Marine Corps and Sgt. Jose Munoz of the U.S. Army will share their personal experiences and will answer questions from the public beginning at 3 p.m. in Grant Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.
The Public Affairs Program in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and students from the Renee Crown University Honors Program course “Improving Undergraduate Education” (HNR 260), taught by professor of public affairs and Department of Public Affairs Chair Bill Coplin, invited the three servicemen as part of a new initiative to increase the awareness of intellectual diversity and its importance on the SU campus. The students intention is for the visit to expose the student body to a unique point of view leading to a better understanding of the nature of citizenship.
The soldiers are prepared to candidly answer questions about their personal experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the U.S. Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” community outreach initiative intended to provide the public with an opportunity to meet and hear from a recently returned service member from Iraq or Afghanistan. Every 90 days, 12 service members (three from each service) are selected to be part of this program and travel across the country talking about their deployed experiences overseas. Many are the same age as current undergraduate and graduate students.
“One of the primary goals of the liberal arts education at Syracuse University is to teach students to think critically,” says Jesus Lopez, a senior honors student. “We believe that a measure of critical thinking is the ability to recognize arguments and viewpoints from all sides of an issue. In order for this to take place, the University must bring a wide-range of speakers who have competitive viewpoints to campus.”
The students in HNR 260 hope that the visit of the three servicemen who recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan will help the student body to understand the nature of citizenship.
William Smullen, director of the National Security Studies program at the Maxwell School and a faculty member at the Newhouse School, will moderate the discussion.
DeCorte is a 13-year Air Force veteran and recently returned from assignment in Afghanistan. He was attached to the 33rd Combat Rescue Squadron, where he and two other aeromedical evacuation flight instructors were handpicked to develop an air ambulance on HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. Each instructor operated as the sole medic onboard during any given mission. During this time, DeCorte was on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While logging more than 104 hours on 63 combat sorties, he made 36 coalition rescues and resupplied Special Operation teams during fire fights with critical ammunition, water and supplies.
DeCorte is currently stationed at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and is assigned to the 5th Medical Support Squadron as the non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) — medical readiness. DeCorte followed in the footsteps of both his parents and enlisted in the Air Force in 1994, after graduating from Oscoda Area High School in Oscoda, Mich. He is married to Tech. Sgt. Loretta DeCorte, also an Air Force medic, and they have four children.
Henry is a three-year veteran of the Marine Corps and recently returned from assignment in Iraq. In February 2007, Henry returned after a seven-month deployment to Al Habbaniyah, Iraq, where he was attached to the 3rd Platoon, Company K as a mortarman. While deployed, Henry shot more than 500 handheld mortar rounds, executing numerous combat patrols, and engaging in numerous encounters with hostile insurgent forces. This was Henry’s second deployment to Iraq in two years. His first deployment to Iraq landed him in Al Qaim in September 2005. During this deployment, Henry earned his Combat Service Ribbon, shooting more than 1,000 81mm mortars.
Raised in Queens, N.Y., Henry graduated from August Martin High School and immediately joined the Marine Corps in 2004. He currently resides in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and is assigned as the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines Mortars Section Leader and has overall responsibility for the mortar section. Based on the commanding officer’s guidance, mission and terrain, the mortar section leader executes reconnaissance and selects mortar firing positions.
Munoz is a five-year veteran of the Army and recently returned from an assignment in Iraq. Munoz has been deployed twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, most recently to escort and provide security to logistics convoys. Although the convoys were hit several times by improvised explosive devices, his unit was able to cover nearly one million miles in the middle and southern portion of Iraq in order to bring necessary supplies to coalition units throughout the region.
Munoz is currently stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., where he is attached to the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment. Although Munoz was born in Mexico, at the age of 10 he moved to a small town in southern Texas near the border. Munoz graduated from Harlingen High School and enlisted in the Army in 2002. After serving in the U.S. military for five years and deploying to Iraq twice, Munoz received U.S. citizenship in May of 2007.
The primary focus of HNR 260 is to have students explore the impact of college education on undergraduates and discuss what faculty, administrators, students and the government can do to improve it. The Public Affairs Program helps undergraduates build professional skills through community service and research. Its interdisciplinary policy studies major leads to a bachelor’s degree from the Maxwell School and The College of Arts & Sciences. The major was created in 1976, and today is the second-largest interdisciplinary major in The College of Arts and Sciences. For more information about the Public Affairs Program,visit http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/paf.