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
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
“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
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
“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
“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.