What is your background?: I was born in Scottsdale Arizona in 1991. I was adopted at birth and moved to California. My father was a pastor and my mother was a stay at home mom who cared for my older brother (who was also adopted) and I. My father went on a many mission’s trips to different parts of the world, when he went to the Amazon to build churches for the local tribes there he ended up messing up his back and had to retire as a pastor. My family moved to Arizona for the warmer climate because it was better for my dad’s back.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: At 18 I joined the Army infantry and went to basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After basic training I was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division and was stationed up in Fort Wainwright, Alaska. I was at Fort Wainwright for about eight months before I conducted my first deployment. I was a team leader in charge of four soldiers in Zabul, Afghanistan.
On May 28 2011, my unit conducted a long foot patrol through the local town. That night around 2200 our compound came under fire through a complex attack. RPG’s, recoilless rifles, and small arms fire broke the silence. A RPG was fired from one of the nearby hilltops and detonated about 15 feet away from me. The blast picked me up and threw me across the tent, throwing shrapnel everywhere. My wounds were severe: broken face, right eye blinded, holes in both my retinas, and shrapnel in my face, hands, hip and knees. I was medically evacuated by helicopter while still under fire. I received the Purple Heart and spent a year in recovery.
Though not fully healed, I signed up to deploy again. I got married to my lovely wife Abigail and was deployed a week later. In 2013 I was sent to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia under Operation Spartan Shield. When I returned, my wounds were getting worse and PTSD was setting in. In 2015, the doctors decided to medically retire me so I finished my military career as an E-5 Sergeant with 5 years of service and 2 combat tours.
I lost 15 close friends and only five of them were killed in action. The rest were suicide. When I returned to my family in Arizona, I was still suffering with severe PTSD and my physical wounds from the blast. A month after I got home, my father killed himself after 12 years of a disability that left him bed ridden. He was tired of the pain. A little while after my father passed away, my wife and I decided to move here to Iowa. When we arrived here I still wasn’t doing well and I myself attempted suicide. I put the barrel of my pistol against my head and right when I was about to pull the trigger my service dog put her paw on my arm and stopped me. After that I sought help for my trauma and depression. Following my treatment, I have been able to find peace and enjoy life again.
I currently reside in Lone Tree with my beautiful wife and our four dogs. I have learned that there is hope and life is beyond worth living-you just have to dig deep and ask for help. You need three things to accomplish any mission: purpose, direction, and motivation.
What brought you to Kirkwood and why?: After I went through treatment I decided to find another dream and pursue becoming a high school history teacher. I heard about Kirkwood through my sister in law who started at Kirkwood before transferring to ISU. I was told that Kirkwood was a great college with a unique family setting. I have learned that its true and it goes beyond just a family here. The professors care for you and care how you are doing in class, and the faculty are outstanding people who will help you get to where you need to go.
What is your program of study and what interests you about it?: I am currently in the Liberal Arts program seeking a history/education degree. I have always been fascinated with history and I believe that it is vital to know history so we don’t repeat it.
Are you involved in anything else on campus? If so, what and why?: I work as a new student orientation Ambassador and at the Iowa City One Stop Student Services office with my service dog Galilee. Here we still get to serve and help others in any way we can.
Are you involved in anything off of campus?: I am a reserve Officer for the West Liberty Police Department, being able to serve my country and other people.
What do you do for fun?: I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, shooting, fishing, and hunting. My wife and I enjoy game nights with friends and family.