Mar 282004
 
Authors: Danny Byers

A commitment to the Air Force Guard took CSU students to the

Middle East, within miles of the Iraq border, to work on military

aircrafts that were engaging in missions during the Iraq conflict

last March.

The same commitment will return some students back to the Middle

East this spring.

The students knew very little about the first operation, which

lasted from the beginning of March 2003 until the end of April

2003, after the dispute with the Iraqi government escalated.

“We didn’t know where we were going and that’s what made it

scary. I didn’t know if we were going to be soldiers fighting,”

said Korie Snyder, a pre-veterinary microbiology major. Snyder said

that she, along with other CSU students in the Guard, were sent to

a classified location 120 miles outside of the Iraq border as a

part of the first phase of the Iraq conflict.

“The official word didn’t come until a month before,” said Chris

Colley, construction management major and senior airmen in the Air

Force Guard. “I was nervous as hell! I was anxious. We were going

to a hostile environment. I didn’t expect to go.”

Snyder and Colley worked with aircraft fuel systems in which

they had to remove and replace specific components and troubleshoot

any complications.

“Our job was the same as our job at home: to fix the jets. But

it was different because our pilots were in combat,” Snyder

said.

Before departing, they had to sign a waiver acknowledging that

they would be working with Hydrazine H70, a chemical that allegedly

causes cancer, which is more or less rocket fuel that aircrafts use

for crash-landing emergencies.

“(H70) is definitely intimidating,” Colley said, who said

working with H70 is a nerve-wracking task of putting on blue suits

with little breathing and visual availability that evoke

claustrophobia, all to work with a chemical that is a suspected

carcinogen. “You hope you do everything right because everyone else

is depending on you.”

But Colley and Snyder said that they felt very confident with

the assistance of Tech Sergeant John Mullin, who has worked with

air fuel systems in the Air Force for 11 years.

Despite the Iraq conflict having progressed into its fourth

phase, the peace phase, the Guard still needed people to return to

the Middle East. Snyder and Colley were the first two in their unit

to volunteer.

“We want to go to better ourselves as people. I want to go back

to feel like I contributed more,” said Colley, who feels that when

he sees army officers die it’s his duty to further his efforts and

do something for his country.

The Guard pays a substantial amount of college tuition, roughly

75 percent, and the vast majority of college students are in the

Guard because of its financial assistance, according to Mullin.

Colley said that many people are leaving the Guard because they do

not want to go to the Middle East right now, and were using the

Guard as a means to get through school.

“We do it not for money and not because we have to, we just want

to do it. It feels like the right thing to do. We’re helping

people. Not everyone has the same motivations,” Snyder said.

When she came back, Snyder said some people who disagreed with

the situation in the Middle East rudely expressed their views to

her.

“I felt like I had sacrificed a lot and then I come back and

people were telling me what we’re doing is wrong,” she said. She

added that everyone has different views and beliefs, which is fine,

but support for people such as Colley and herself is important.

“I wish people would remember what they have in America,” she

said. “They won’t know until they go to these different places with

different governments where women can’t show their faces.”

Although Colley also volunteered again, due to limited space, he

will not soon return to the Middle East, though Snyder will. She

said it will set her back a semester, as the previous trip did, but

after this service she will then be able to concentrate on

advancing into CSU’s veterinary school.

While Snyder isn’t exactly excited about heading back, she holds

strong and dedicated to her commitment to the Guard.

“I believe what we’re doing is good because people should be

free,” she said.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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