Like many of the Wildcats profiled in this issue of Crimson & Black, I had the privilege of serving my country. Immediately after high school, I was accepted into the US Air Force Academy, and, following graduation, served in the Air Force in California, Turkey, and Germany.
My time at the academy taught me a number of life lessons about the importance of duty, honor, leadership, and discipline. As a student-athlete, I also learned about teamwork and communication. Looking back at my nearly 40 years as an educator, I see how all of those values helped shape and guide me, providing me with the tools for success I have relied upon throughout my career.
When I view Central’s historical support for student-veterans and our military science programs, I see those same values being taught and learned. The list of Wildcats who have had extraordinary success in their military careers is impressive, ranging from former US Secretary of Defense General James N. Mattis to Colonel Curt Schroeder, the US Army Forces Command Provost Marshal, who advises on security issues at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
That commitment to service is most apparent when I recall the CWU alumni who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. People like Signalman First Class Douglas Munro, who gave his life while evacuating a group of Marines under heavy fire during the US invasion at Guadalcanal in 1942, and Major San D. Francisco, who was shot down during a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in 1968.
Service, whether for country or community, is a gift. When we serve, we gain a sense of pride and accomplishment in being able to help our fellow citizens. We learn to work toward a greater good and move beyond the narrow boundaries of self-interest. We become part of something greater, and we are richer for the experience.
To all the Wildcats who have served, and often made sacrifices along the way, I would like to simply say: thank you.
James L. Gaudino