The Concord Monitor, words

Up and Away

On the mornings after the rains came, 7-year old Carroll Werren would race outside his Maine farmhouse and scan the horizon. Standing in the field, he could hear the roar of a biplane coming. It was 1963.

Flying low over the trees, the crop duster would swoop overhead, spraying the nearby orchards. Werren could see the pilot in the bumblebee-colored, brilliant cockpit. He would wave his little arms and the pilot would wave the wings of the plane in

Forty-four years later, Werren recalls the memories and his dreams to fly – as he himself waves to people below. From the perch on his powered parachute, Werren says that whenever he goes up, it feels like the first time. Floating, weightless. This is what a bird must feel like. Houses look like miniatures from a train set, the Merrimack River casts a deep blue, and the dome of the State House reflects the setting sun.

A retired Concord firefighter, Werren flies over the station, circling overhead and waving to former co-workers below. Everyone who sees him in the sky waves back. There is a great joy in the sharing of that connection. Just think of something you have always wanted to do, Werren says, and then you get to do it. That’s what this feels like.

If you want something in life, he says, you reach out. And it is there.

The Norwich Record, words

We Band of Brothers

In late July 2010, senior Casey Ashfield volunteered for a patrol in eastern Afghanistan with former Norwich student Sgt. Steven DeLuzio. Their mission on that cloudy day was to man traffic control checkpoints with the Afghan National Police. Authorities were looking for two kidnapped Americans whom they feared would be smuggled through the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Afghans were in charge of the checkpoint, so Ashfield and DeLuzio perched on a nearby rock. They watched as one of the officers casually twirled his loaded rifle and then began wrestling with a cohort. As the game grew progressively more dangerous, Ashfield feared the weapon might accidentally go off. The two American soldiers talked about the policemen’s antics and the possibility of their own death amid the jagged peaks of the Afghan mountains.

“I hope I don’t get knocked off by a sniper,” said DeLuzio, before he and Ashfield moved to address the Afghan police.

DeLuzio was no stranger to conflict. At 25 this was his second tour of duty with the Vermont National Guard. In 2006, he left NU to deploy with Task Force Saber. With dark, cropped hair and cheerful brown eyes, his friends at Norwich joked about his “loveable Italian charm” and penchant for good-natured ribbing.

DeLuzio and Ashfield finished work for the day and headed back to the base. It was the last time they were together.

A few weeks later, DeLuzio and Sgt. Tristan Southworth, 21, of Walden, Vt., were on patrol when their unit was attacked.

During the two-hour firefight, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire exploded around them. When the dust cleared, both young men were dead.

By DeLuzio’s August 26th memorial service in Herrera, 77 hours had passed and Ashfield still hadn’t slept. He remembers leaning against a dusty truck, weeping, when a physician’s assistant came by and told him it was time to go to bed.

Back at Norwich, Ashfield, 22, wears a cold black metal band around his wrist. On it is engraved, SGT DELUZIO STEVEN J, 22 AUG 2010, ACO 3 172IN(MTN), ROQIAN AFGHANISTAN.

It is a physical reminder of his year-long deployment with the Vermont National Guard’s A-3/172 Infantry, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (MTN). In 2010, more than 30 Norwich students deployed with the 86th this last time.

This fall will mark 10 years since Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom began. DeLuzio is one of five Norwich students who have been killed during that time.

Ashfield says his wristband serves as a memorial to a friend he doesn’t want to forget.

“The worst week I ever had was when DeLuzio died,” he says.


Last January, more than 70 Norwich alums and students packed their rucks for Afghanistan in the largest Vermont National Guard deployment since the Second World War.

A year later, their ACUs faded by the sun, 14 students joined the ranks of the roughly 100 veterans already on campus for the start of the spring 2011 semester.

In March of 1942, when almost the entire Corps of Cadets marched off the Hill to fight in World War II, the campus was instantly transformed into a skeleton of its pre-war status.

By comparison, today’s student deployments go largely unnoticed. Soldiers trickle in and out of school, leaving as individuals or in small groups. Many don’t return, choosing instead to resume their education at some later date, somewhere else, or perhaps not at all.

Those that do come back right away ride a difficult line: expected to perform like combatants in war and then seamlessly transition into being carefree undergraduates. It’s harder than it looks. And as the last large group of Norwich students who left with Task Force Saber found, sometimes the gulf between their worlds is too great.

World War II’s warriors came back to a heroes’ welcome, the toast of their hometowns, with the entire nation celebrating the end of the war. Today’s youngest veterans are virtually invisible to everyone save their families and closest friends. And with no clear end in sight to U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the prospect of future deployments is never far from their consciousness.


It was only a year earlier the student soldiers stood side-by-side at the Army Aviation Support Facility, with a winter chill in the air and the strains of the Army band playing.

Junior Scott Gumpert, 22, the only person from his Douglasville, Pa. graduating class of 500 to join the military, stood, his lanky frame at attention. He wondered how long the ceremony was going to last, as politicians’ proxies and military leaders delivered their goodbye proclamations. An outdoorsman with a perennially upbeat nature, Gumpert has dreams beyond his deployment of hiking the Appalachian Trail and biking across America. His friends like to joke that his athleticism comes from his “smoke-free, dip-free lifestyle.”

Also in formation, junior Brett Johnson, 21, from Lynn, Mass., waited, anxious to get going. His father, himself an Iraq vet, along with his mother, grandfather, and brother, were there to say goodbye. “My mom was crying. My dad was choked up. It was hard for them to see their son going to war,” says Johnson.

The students weren’t surprised when they found out they were going to be deployed. The war in the Middle East was already the longest war in U.S. history. They signed up knowing full well that they would likely be sent overseas. The question was never if, but when?

James Chido wanted to deploy. At age 26, he’d served on active duty for three years and had started and stopped school at Norwich twice. Married and divorced, he already had a lifetime of experience under his belt.

Other students were fresh off the training field. Josh Davis, now 23, a burly Norwich rugby player and gentle giant, enlisted to support a good friend.

“My roommate said, ‘I’m going to basic and I’m getting deployed,’” says Davis, whose older brother had already finished a tour of Iraq. “I said, ‘Don’t worry dude, I’ll go with you.’ Then I went and enlisted.”

When Davis got to basic training, however, his roommate was nowhere to be found. “I was like, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘They are not letting me join: I’m too big,’” Davis laughs. “He’s a big football guy… So I deployed and he stayed back here at school.”

Although Daniel Hart always knew he wanted to become an officer, he signed up to have the experience of being an enlisted man. “To learn to do something, first you have to have it taught to you … like wrestling,” Hart says. “You really need to be in the hold to do it correctly. I thought being enlisted and doing the grunt work would make me a better officer.”

There they were. This small band of Norwich brothers lined up; and group by group, ceremony by ceremony, they headed off to war.


“The plane door opens and you are like, ‘this isn’t so bad,’” says John Lara, 20. “Then all of a sudden you are hit in the face with a burst of scalding hot air” at an elevation 6,400 feet higher than the training site. “You get off the plane gasping.”

The landscape at their feet looked like “the surface of Mars,” says senior Jim Black, 21, of Lynnfield, Mass.

For Johnson, the barren remoteness of the country inspired feelings of adventure on the American frontier. “Like the people that were going out exploring and looking for gold,” he says.

As soldiers in the same company, Gumpert, Johnson, Lara, Black, Chido, and Davis, along with Jared Labello, Logan Howard, and Justin Macura, were attached to the Cavalry’s Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition unit, sharing most of their time on a fairly remote outpost, surrounded by the odor of burning trash and with only a trench for a bathroom.

Purposely scruffy, they worked to grow beards—when they could—an indication of manliness in Afghan culture.

They also adapted to the close, physical contact between Afghans. “Personal bubbles don’t exist over there,” says Davis. “When you come up to talk to somebody, they come up to shake your hand and say ‘Salaam Alaykum,’ and afterwards they hold you [in an embrace] for a good three minutes while talking to you.”

On days when there was no hugging, both their greatest adventures and their most terror-filled moments took place. For Norwich senior Labello, a one-day road trip turned into the longest night of his life.

The slim, quick talking Labello was part of a platoon sent out on a reconnaissance mission to find a new route to Jalalabad through the area’s cragged wildness. The soldiers set out in the freshness of morning, clamoring aboard armored monster trucks stacked with a turret on top. A strategic military city, Jalalabad sits at the base of the Khyber Pass in eastern Afghanistan. Situated between two large mountain ranges, the Hindu Kush to the north and the Safed Kuh to the south, it marks the entrance from Afghanistan to the Indian Subcontinent.

The top-heavy vehicles struggled through tight mountain passes, their wheels teetering on the edges of the road, with more than a 500-meter drop below.

After hours of terrified driving—but only a few miles under their belts—Labello remembers turning a sharp corner to find the team’s forward truck dangling from the cliff.

The ground was slowly giving way.

The drop didn’t look deadly, but their position on the road next to a small village, known to be a Taliban stronghold, would turn them into sitting ducks. As the soldiers tried to extricate the million-dollar vehicle, it tipped over, smashing on its side, the bullet-proof glass cracking.

Desperate, the unit radioed for permission to blow up the truck and head back to the FOB. The response came back a strong “no,” but to alleviate concerns they were grudgingly promised backup choppers for protection. As the sky darkened and it began to rain, Labello and his fellow soldiers waited anxiously for the hum of rotor blades that never came.

For hours they stared at the village and the village stared back. Labello could see eyes watching their every movement. As they hunkered down for the night, he realized that the soldier to his left had only a shotgun for a weapon.

Labello recalls thinking, “This is either going to be a very quick night or a long one.”


Some of the greatest sunsets Chido has ever seen happened that year. There were, quite literally, rainbows and puppies everywhere, so it seemed ironic that in the midst of all this beauty there were bullets too—lots of them.

Johnson says combat is the biggest rush he’s ever felt. “I felt scared the first couple times, then after that you just get used to it and you are actually mad when you don’t get hit,” he says. “After you get over the fear of dying, it just becomes a huge rush that you’ll probably never feel from anything else.”

There has to be a balance though,” says Lara. “You need to control it because if you let it control you, you can never do your job. So you need to find that balance.”

“That’s where the people around you come into play” says Chido. “They bring you back to where you were before. You talk to them. You sit down and have a meal or something like that. So you can ease back into that state that you were in before you got hit.”

But even within their tight-knit Norwich group, there are things no one likes to speak of: patrols that didn’t go quite right, accidents where civilians or friends were hurt, and haunting guilt over things they might have done differently.

They’re bruised physically: some worn down by body armor, some with hearing loss, some with injuries left from a rollover. And there are emotional bruises as well. Back home, in world where modern conveniences mask the frailty of human existence; their classmates are texting back and forth about their weekend. In Afghanistan, the soldiers spent every day exposed to a stripped-down version of life. They made tough calls, the kind that rip you up inside, like whether or not to open fire on a civilian vehicle, or trust an innocent-looking child who might be working for al-Qaeda.

But life goes on, regardless. Johnson turned 21 while in Afghanistan. His mom sent a marble cake, with frosting in a separate package. One of his favorite memories from that time is of frosting the cake in his dusty room, and afterwards the gift of a Snack Pack and grenade from his lieutenant.

By November, the affable Davis was really looking forward to coming home. Including training time, he’d been away from his family, friends, and girlfriend for 16 months. Most of his rook buddies had graduated and he was ready get on with his life. He wanted to be normal, hang out with friends, go to bars, and “not be in a war zone.”

Black, who had his Norwich ring sent overseas, was looking forward to “just being able to sit on a couch and watch some television.”

They had missed out on graduations, formals, friends, parties, and a year of school, and they were ready to come back—unaware of just how much they had changed inside.


In Afghanistan Labello remembers the feeling of always being watched by eyes on the mountains. The first thing he did when he walked into his dorm room was close the curtains.

“Then I realized that I didn’t need to do that,” he laughs.

But habits developed in combat are hard to shake. Likewise, the emotional extremes of exhilaration and terror that accompany deployment are not easily replicated in college life. Very quickly the excitement over coming home is tinged with a longing for the action of war and soldierly duties.

“Coming back the first week was very hectic for all of us,” says Labello. “We are still trying to get back into the swing of things. You go from being an authority figure to being a student again. It’s a very strange concept.”

“I was actually talking to Professor [David] Orrick about this earlier,” agrees Ashfield. “He was talking about how the academic gears in your head have a little rust on them. You haven’t had to think about abstract concepts. [Over there] you just had to worry about staying alive, dodging mortars, stuff like that.”

Johnson has had moments of drifting off in class. “You start thinking about something else, then you come back two seconds later and you missed a good paragraph of what [the professor] was talking about, and then you are completely lost the rest of the class.”

“You have to relearn everything. It’s really hard,” says Chido. “The teachers try to give you a little more attention but it’s hard because they have 14 other people that are already up to speed and this one person who isn’t.”

Overall, the group has experienced mixed success with everything from getting re-enrolled to registering for classes to figuring out their housing situation. By far the most difficult transition has been going back to the life of a cadet.

“Being in the Corps is very hard … for all of us,” says Chido. “Been there. Done that. This is not how the real Army works. It’s hard to sit there and take it.”

For many it’s the minutia of day-to-day cadet life that is the most taxing.

“I like to have my stuff neat, but not to the standard that they have … like, why do my socks have to be arranged like this?” says Johnson. “When I was a freshman I thought it was good because it gives you attention to detail and some sort of structure. Now we want to be in the Corps but we don’t want to be messed with. We just want to be here and graduate. Period.”

Their deployment has left them feeling older than their peers. Their classmates and rook buddies have graduated and commissioned, and except for each other, many of their close friends are gone. The realities of their deployment are hard to explain, no matter how well-intentioned and interested their peers may be.

“Our goal is just to get out of school,” says Chido.

Most are working hard to simply buckle down and finish up. Stuck in what feels like no-man’s land, school has become a weigh-station between the before and the after. But what the after is, no one really knows. The old cliché, “you can’t go home again,” rings painfully true. Not only has home changed while the students were away, but they have changed as well.


To address the students’ concerns, Norwich created a Veterans Affairs Office in 2009 to provide advocacy, coordination, and referral services. The office acts as an ombudsman, helping with such things as class selection, drill pay issues, congressional inquiries, military leave of absence and, for the first time, registering for classes before returning to campus.

“After a combat tour your perspectives and priorities change,” says Joyce Rivers, the Director of Veterans Affairs. “Military transition is hard enough, but when it comes to a combat tour, it is particularly hard. Many soldiers feel like they can’t share their experiences, or if they ask for help it will be held against them later on.”

Because stress-related issues such as PTSD, alcohol abuse, and divorce are statistically higher for veterans, the office also provides confidential counseling and referrals. But oftentimes veterans are slow to take advantage of what is offered.

“The reality is that if you go in for treatment, you could be disqualified for service,” says Rivers.

Ironically, the students don’t really think of themselves as veterans—young and strong and with their lives still ahead of them.

“When I think of a vet, I tend to think of World War II, Vietnam,” says Davis. “Those guys were hard core. And now I’ve come back and I’ve got vets from that time saying, ‘thanks for your service.’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t do anything.’ You go back and watch ‘Band of Brothers’ and you are like, ‘That is War.’”

“You were a trench warfare guy, a jungle warfare guy,” adds Ashfield. “We just went to Afghanistan.

“We all often talked about the guys that were in the Vietnam War and we have a lot more respect for them after this experience. I guess you could say those guys are our heroes,” Labello says.


In the Wise Campus Center mess hall, they sit around Formica-topped tables, their uniforms stripped of rank, their past colliding with their future.

“I miss carrying a weapon,” Chido says, his comment met by nods.

Their M16s, M4s, M249s, M9s, and M203s twitch like phantom limbs: They reach reflexively for them and find they are not there. Ashfield likens it to a cell phone for the average person. “If you forget it, you start freaking out.”

Despite how different they may feel on the inside, the soldiers gradually drift back into the stream of their former lives, swept along by the current of the academic year. Their own cell phones are once again powered up for spring break planning—the pleasures of cars, bars, and dating no longer a distant fantasy. There are tests to take and projects to finish, but they hold on tight to each other, checking up on one another if someone doesn’t show up for class or acts a little odd.

“Everyone else doesn’t understand what we went through—and are still going through—trying to readjust,” says Johnson. “It’s hard at some points.”

Back at the Wise Campus Center, Black opens his camouflage backpack to reveal a neatly folded Norwich flag.

“This has been everywhere with me,” he says. Tucked away in his ruck, the flag traveled from the green hills of Vermont to the barren mountain ranges of Afghanistan. It bumped over dirt roads, hung in B-huts, and came out for ceremonial occasions and photo ops. It’s just an object, but it holds the memories of this group of Norwich brothers in both their joy and their grief. On a larger scale, it’s a symbol of the things they share.

“Touch it,” says Black. “You can still feel the sand from Afghanistan.”

USDA - Rural Development, words

Library Ladies

At the turn of the century the ladies in the Whitefield, NH “Women’s Study Club” heard about a program funded by steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to build libraries for towns with industrious citizens looking to help themselves.

So they gathered their forces, gained approval of the town and sent off their application for a $10,000 “Carnegie Library” – one of 2,500 the industrial tycoon and philanthropist would eventually fund.

Their determination was rewarded and in 1904 the Whitefield Public Library held its grand opening.

The town pledged to “support the library forever and forever,” said Sandy Holz, Whitefield librarian since 1974.

And they have. One hundred and six years later, however, that same little small town library – with its lamppost symbolizing enlightenment and its stairs embodying elevation by learning – was badly in need of a facelift.

One of the few public buildings in this small town, it served as a community center for generations. But its space was antiquated – bulging with books, lacking hot water and out of compliance with accessibility laws. Its single bathroom stall doubled as an office space and the basement was growing mold.

The library board and supporters had seen the need for improvements, said Holz and started a handicap accessibility fund years ago. But they still had a long way to go.

That changed last year when local residents heard about the USDA Rural Development Community Facility Direct Loan and Grant Program bolstered by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

With their matching funds of $150,000, the library was able to secure a loan of $80,000 and a grant of $170,000 through USDA Rural Development.

“Everything fit into place,” said Holz. “There is no way we could have done this project without the RD grant.”

USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program offers direct and guaranteed loans and grants designed to finance capital projects and equipment for essential community facilities in rural areas, and libraries are a special target for that funding.

The new 1,400 square foot addition, which will be fully accessible with a 34-seat meeting room, kitchen, office, bathrooms and children’s room, is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2011.

“The library will be accessible to all, at long last,” said Holz. “The new meeting and childrens’ rooms will allow programming and story hours, which we could not have downstairs in the moldy old basement.”

The renovations will be “modest” and preserve the historic character of the building, something Holz feels is right in line with the original mission of the Women’s Study Club.”

“I think the ‘ladies’ would LOVE the idea,” she said.

The Norwich Record, words

Like Father, Like Son

Six-year-old David Quantock ’80 was at his grandparents’ house in upstate New York the day a taxi pulled up to the curb. He remembers his grandfather looking out the window and asking, “Who called for a cab?” The cabbie got out, knocked on the door, and delivered a Western Union telegram addressed to his mother, Phyllis.

Its sparse, typed words were brutal and direct.


It was 1964, nine years into the war. Quantock’s father, 1LT Earl G. Quantock, was riding with his men in an M113 “green dragon,” when suddenly a blast ripped the vehicle apart, killing everyone but him.
Today the army would call his wounds a “traumatic brain injury,” but back then there wasn’t a name for what he suffered.

Young David watched his father battle back through therapy and, despite his injuries, return to Vietnam for a second tour. He eventually spent 26 years in the Army, earning three bronze stars and retiring at the rank of major.

“That’s a hero to me,” says Quantock. “He was my idol. He was hard as woodpecker lips.”

At Quantock’s commissioning ceremony in 1980, MAJ Quantock gave his son the following advice, which he has never forgotten.

He said, “Dave, your success in the Army cannot be measured by rank, but in the success of your soldiers. The Army is not about you; it is about taking care of those soldiers.”

His father passed away in 2004 and never got to see, not one, but two sons become generals in the United States Army. Had he been alive, there is no doubt he would have saluted with pride last September as MG David E. Quantock was sworn in as the 14th Provost Marshal General, Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command and Army Corrections Command.

His eldest son was now the Army’s “Top Cop.”

In his Norwich yearbook photo, David Quantock has a full, lush head of dark hair and a bushy mustache. He’s smiling slightly. His heavy brows rim grayish-green eyes. If eyes are the window to one’s soul, Quantock was born with a soul the color of the army combat uniform.

A quote below his bio rings with idealism: “I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it. —Voltaire.”

When Quantock speaks, his voice is nuanced with the timbre of all the places he grew up as a nomadic “army brat.” There are echoes of a Southern drawl mixed with the open parlance of upstate New York.
His hope out of high school was to head to West Point, but first he needed to improve his SAT scores. In the meantime, he enrolled at Plattsburgh State, joining the football team. With one twist of the leg, his knee was torn, and with it his carefully scripted plan.

“I was actually on the waiting list to go to West Point after my sophomore year but [my knee injury] disqualified me,” he says. “Then I remembered playing football against Norwich and I said, ‘Hmmm, I wonder if I could go the ROTC route through Norwich?’”

Turns out, he could.

So junior year he packed his bags for Northfield, Vt., to start rookdom.

His roommate, Rick McGivern ’80, describes Quantock as a model cadet. “If you had to write a textbook on how to be a rook, you could take pictures of Dave. If he was told to shine shoes, you could shave in the reflection of his shoes.”

According to McGivern, Quantock wasn’t trying to outdo anyone, it’s just the way he was.

“He was the most focused person I ever met,” says McGivern. “There were three places you could find him: in the library, in the gym, or in the mess hall, eating as much red meat as a human could consume in a single meal.”

A year later, Quantock had made company commander, ROTC cadet battalion commander, and was named the number one ROTC cadet in America.

“Dave was straight and narrow: Every inch of him was army,” says classmate David Casey ’80. “If anyone was going to be a general, it was him.”

While disciplining his fellow cadets, he maintained the utmost professionalism.

Gary Wheaton ’82 would know. With the loudest stereo system on the floor, a penchant for good times, and a room right next to Quantock’s, he was poised for trouble.

One memorable night, Wheaton spared himself a trip to the men’s bathroom, instead, opening his window and relieving himself on the parade ground below.

The next day Quantock appeared at his door.

“He knocked on my door gently, handed me 10 demerits, and didn’t make a big deal out if it,” says Wheaton. “He didn’t say a word. It was over and done with.”

It’s not that Quantock didn’t appreciate a good time. He was just busy. When he transferred from Plattsburg to Norwich he switched his major from math to criminal justice and had to make up the credits fast. There was no dallying for him, because when he came back his senior year he also had a wife to think about.

“By God, I wanted to graduate in 1980. I think one semester I took 26 credits,” he says.

His newly married status was an added incentive to finish on time. Quantock met his wife, Melissa, as a high school junior in Germany. Kindred military brats, they quickly became sweethearts.

They married in the spring of his junior year, a week before Quantock left for advance camp at Fort Bragg. Soon after, she moved in with his parents while he finished school. Her unwavering support has been a hallmark of their 33-year marriage.

“She keeps me grounded,” he says. “She’s down to earth. In fact, a lot of people say the only reason I was successful was because Melissa carried me for my entire career.”

Quantock initially had no intention of making a career out of the military, so after washing out of aviation due to colorblindness, he chose to branch something that would give him options when he got out—something hopefully leading to law school. He decided to join the Military Police.

It was during the Cold War, and what he didn’t anticipate was that he would end up guarding a nuclear weapons site in “middle of nowhere” Germany. Living in an antiquated farmhouse with Melissa, his first assignment was “miserable,” but he made the best of it.

“It taught me a lot about leadership. How do you motivate guys that have to sit in towers from two to four hours?”

It was the start of a career that would take him around the world: to Grenada (Operation Island Breeze), Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy), Egypt (Bright Star 2000), and Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program). It would also see him command the 16th Military Police Brigade out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and lead the United States Army Military Police School in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

In the book Warrior Police (a term Quantock coined) he is re-garded as a “famed contemporary leader.” Quantock doesn’t think of himself in those terms; instead, he sees himself as a “due course guy” with a focus on doing the best job he can.

“My philosophy has always been, ‘Don’t get fired from the job you’re in,’” he says. “Which to me focuses on, don’t get worrying about the next two or three jobs … take care of your soldiers and civilians and develop them and train them, and if you do all that … the jobs will take care of themselves.”
The jobs have indeed taken care of themselves, which is how in 2003 he found himself gearing up to go to war.

Operation Iraqi Freedom was just beginning, and Quantock’s soldiers at Fort Bragg were next in line to deploy. As part of his preparation, he headed overseas for a pre-deployment site survey. One of the places he visited was Abu Ghraib prison, 20 miles west of Baghdad.

Built by British contractors in the 1960s under Saddam Hussein, the facility had been a cesspool of inhumanity. The BBC called it “one square kilometer of hell.” Mass executions, rape, beatings, hangings, electric shock, castration, and mutilation were all routinely practiced at the site, which observers estimated held as many as 15,000 inmates. Months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Saddam declared amnesty for all prisoners, leaving the prison empty when U.S. forces arrived. The Americans seized control and began using the facility to hold detainees—eventually replacing the Saddam portrait outside with a banner that read in English and Arabic, “America is the friend of all Iraqi people.”

The site ultimately became the focus of America’s own abuse scandal, when photos of U.S. soldiers tormenting naked Iraqi detainees exploded in the media.

During Quantock’s pre-deployment visit, those pictures had not yet come to light, but Quantock’s sixth sense (what he calls his “spidey sense”) was already up. Physically, the place was filthy, with raw sewage and human bones left from the Saddam era. Operationally, it wasn’t faring much better.

“You could tell discipline, standards were awful … I mean, I was looking at folks who looked like they had been defeated. There was no leadership. I said, ‘God, we’ve got to instill some desire in these folks.’ Everybody seemed to be in different uniforms,” he says. “It was a disaster down there. And so it was ripe for something bad to happen.”

The investigation was just starting in January of 2004 when now Colonel Quantock came back for his tour. One of his myriad duties was to take over Abu Ghraib from BG Janis Karpinski.

Thus began what Quantock describes as the “12 toughest months” of his life.

He began by working to clean up the prison: providing oversight, establishing standards of behavior and discipline, instituting interrogation procedures, and making sure that detainees were treated humanely and with dignity.

“It was 22- … 23-hour days. And that was just one of our missions. We were still doing route security. We were standing up the Iraqi highway police. We were standing up police academies down in Hillah. We were doing convoy escorts. I probably put 100,000 miles on my vehicles,” Quantock says.

Despite the hardships, the tour put him face to face with countless soldiers risking their lives in service.
“It was also inspiring because of what I got to be a part of—so many great Americans out there doing their busi-ness, just doing the best they could. The kids inspired me every day. I probably aged 30 years in that one year but it was worth it.”

His ability to see the positive in those around him served him well during the tour. As did his ability to maintain a sense of humor. His two biggest stress relievers remain PT and laughing.

“You’ve got to have a sense of humor. You’ve got to laugh at yourself,” he says.

He needed it, especially during 2004 and 2005. They were losing soldiers and under the pressure of constant work—but he was determined not to let it get his troops down. As a morale builder he instituted the “Loose Grip Award.” Each Saturday night at their Battle Update Brief, a soldier would be nominated for the biggest screw-up of the week … and the kicker was, it only had to be partly true.

“The guys and gals would scheme … take a picture of somebody doing something stupid or make something up.” The winner of the award would write a detailed (and colorful) report of their transgressions in a little green book, which was read aloud at the meeting. The hilarity was resounding.
“It was to try and break the stress,” he says, “to team build, to have everybody realize that we are in this fight together. We are going to laugh together. We are going to fight together, cry together.”

And there had been plenty of tears. In that year alone, the brigade lost 13 men. As a reminder, Quantock keeps replicas of all 13 sets of their dog tags suspended with red, white, and blue ribbons from an eagle on his fireplace mantel.

“There’s not a single day that I question whether I did everything [within my power] to protect their lives,” he said at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery on Memorial Day 2011. “Even though I feel that I did, their loss is no less.”

Throughout his long career, Quantock has spoken at far too many funerals.

For the 600 people congregated at Northside High School in Va. for the funeral of Army Sgt. Timothy John “T.J.” Conrad, he told them what he tells his soldiers. “Every day, their fingerprints are on the history of the United States. You cannot read the history of the United States and not understand, that without an Army, there would not be a United States of America to go out and defend. I tell them to look at the flag, and understand their fingerprints are on those red, white, and blue colors. T.J.’s fingerprints are on those colors.”

Back home, Quantock’s family was also carrying the red, white, and blue colors of war. While he was in Iraq, Melissa was doing more than simply holding down the fort. Their children—David, Chris, and Heather—were getting older, and Melissa expanded her attention to supporting the families around her. It was early in the war, and there were very few protocols in place to provide for soldiers’ loved ones—especially in the case of injury or death. To address this need, Melissa formed “care teams” and worked to get the wives involved in volunteer activities on and around the base.

And in 2006, when Quantock was named Commandant of the United States Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood, she moved her care and consideration there.

“As I went through my military career, there were two things that were important to me,” Quantock told the post newspaper, “being successful in the Army, and at the same time being a successful husband and father.”

Like his father before him, making family a top priority has always been an inextricable part of who Quantock is. He worked very hard throughout his career to make sure he was there for his kids at all of their significant events—ball games, dance recitals, even family dinners.

“We raised three kids in the Army; understanding what is important in those kids is key,” he says. “I mean, I love golf, but I stopped playing golf for 10 years until my kids were able to play with me.”

Not that he had much time for golf. In 2008 he was tapped for yet another move when Gen. David Petraeus chose him to become the Deputy Commanding General (Detainee Operations)/Commanding General of Task Force 134 in Iraq.

At that time, the United States still had 22,000 detainees in custody, and as head of the new task force it was up to Quantock to deal with them.

But this deployment was going to be different. For the first time, both his sons would be serving as soldiers on the same battlefield as their father. It was a thought that was a bit scary for all of them.

It wasn’t Quantock’s intention that his children follow in his footsteps; they chose it on their own.

“They’ve been wanting to go into the army since they could walk,” he says. “I think from Melissa’s perspective she looked at it like, ‘Dave’s there to look over them and take care of them,’ but from my perspective, there is no way in heck. At the end of the day, God’s looking over them and they understand the risk. That’s why we’re soldiers … with soldiers comes inherent risk. They are willing to accept those risks and I’m very proud of them for that.”

In November of 2009 Quantock sat for an interview with CNN. He’d aged since his senior portrait, his head now smooth, shining under the overhead light. He wasn’t smiling. Long vertical lines ran between his dark brows down to his army gray-green eyes. His hands, resembling blades, gestured together slowly as though conducting an army orchestra, squashing the opposition. He looked tired—raising his eyebrows and creasing his forehead like a bulldog—but his tone was level.

Since his arrival, it had been his job to orchestrate the release or transfer of thousands of detainees in U.S. custody from prisons like Camp Bucca in the south to Camp Cropper, near Baghdad, or Taji in the north. According to the security agreement signed in December 2008, he needed an arrest warrant or a conviction to hand a detainee over to Iraqi authority; otherwise he had to let them go.

“When I showed up in Iraq in July of 2008 with 22,000 detainees and the security agreement impending on us, I remember Gen. Odierno walking out of the room telling me, ‘Dave, just let the good ones go.’ And I looked around and I thought, ‘Oh my God. Most of these guys are bad but we have no paper on them.’”

The task ahead of him was daunting. He and his soldiers had to somehow find evidence and sift out the good from the bad. As Warrior Police describes them, the detainees were “a dog’s breakfast collection ranging from hard-core criminals, al-Qaeda fighters, Sunni insurgents, former Saddam gunmen, Mahdi Army fighters, and a growing mob of semiliterate unemployed young men who drifted to the various factions out of economic need or quasi-religious fervor.”

They labored with intensity, setting up a web portal to gather evidence from the field, putting cases together to be tried in front of an Iraqi court, getting arrest warrants and detention orders in accordance with the security agreement.

“It was like building a bridge as we walked across it,” he says.

In the meantime, they created educational programs, vocational training, and Islamic discussion groups for the detainees. These opportunities represented his core values as a commander.

“[You treat] people with dignity and respect inside those facilities, because … you don’t want to create more terrorists by treating them improperly,” he says.

The detainees learned valuable skills —reading and writing, computer literacy, and math. Along the way, Quantock says they also learned that Americans weren’t so bad.

“There were some hard-core individuals that could be there for 100 years and not change their mind. But even those you treat with dignity and respect. That is what we stand for as a country.”

By the end of the task force, the team had enough evidence to transfer 8,000 prisoners to the government of Iraq—closing Camp Bucca—and in January of 2010 they handed over control of all Iraqi prisons to the Iraqi government.

As he walked away from the razor wire and 15-ft. chain-link fences, Quantock exchanged Iraq, once again, for the green, humid climate of Fort Leonard Wood. Upon his return in May 2010 he became the first non-engineer Commanding General of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.

In his short tenure there, the base came under fire from the media for a lengthy list of pending court-martial cases for sexual assault. And as if that wasn’t enough, on New Year’s Day 2011, tornadoes ripped across its face.

But, as with all his previous assignments, Quantock dealt with these challenges in preparation for the next job he would be given. In September 2011, he was named the Provost Marshal General/Commanding General of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and the Army Corrections Command.

The last time he had an office in the Pentagon, he shared a cubicle with eight office mates. These days he’s got a ten-person conference table, a desk, and even a window. “The fact that I have a door that shuts is pretty cool,” he says.

His 100-picture digital photo frame flips through images of his family, and though he’s on the side of the building where the plane went down on 9/11, he can’t quite see the memorial.

His Pentagon office is only one of three in his command, but he spends most of his time there when he isn’t traveling because, he says, it is “where the decisions are made.”

He now wears three very important hats: As the Provost Marshal General, he’s in charge of anything that deals with policy and procedures of law enforcement in the Army and his office is in the Pentagon. As the CID Commander in charge of criminal investigations, his office is in Quantico. And as the Corrections Commanding General, he is in charge of all Army jails and has yet a third office in Washington, D.C.
Parts of his work he can’t really talk about, though some of the cases under his jurisdiction filter out to the press now and again. Some of what he commands deals with procedural change, such as allowing post and garrison commanders to do away with motor vehicle registration on bases. Some of it is sensational, for example, when Army investigators probed the video of a sheep being beaten by laughing soldiers. Occasionally it is gut wrenching, like murder and rape.

“When you are in the position that I’m in now … it can get you down,” he says. “You start wondering for periods of time, ‘Is there anyone doing anything good out there?’ But then you have 30 years of experience to lean on that says 99 percent of the folks out there are doing unbelievably great things.”

When he talks to new recruits and young officers, he emphasizes the importance of being an “ethical and moral role model.” It is one of Quantock’s personal Ten Commandments.

“You know the old saying, ‘The higher you go on the flagpole, the more your back end’s exposed.’ It’s a true statement. That is why you have got to lead that ethical and moral life if you in fact get the honor of leading the sons and daughters of our American population around the world.”

Quantock takes his responsibility as a role model seriously. So seriously that his workouts have been known to serve as a platform for his own fatherly advice to recruits.

Quantock PT’s every single day. Religiously. He laces up his shoes, dons his gray ARMY T-shirt and black trunks, and hits the road. While he was a commander at Fort Leonard Wood, one of his favorite activities was to run with the kids going through basic training. He’d jump into the middle of formation and just talk to them. He’d ask them things like: Why did you come into the Army? What are your goals? How has the training been going? And then he would rotate, talking to 10 to 30 new soldiers at a time.

“I enjoyed hearing why they came into the Army,” he says. “And it was good for them to see that, hey, a 52-, 53-year-old guy can go out there and run.”

But the most important part came later when, as his father had done 25-plus years earlier, he reminded them of their duty as soldiers.

“After I get done running with those young troopers,” he says. “I’d explain to them about the profession. ‘This is an organization. It’s not about you. It’s about serving the nation, serving the country. It’s about something bigger than you. It’s about being part of the nation’s history because you can’t talk about our country, our nation, without talking about its military and where it has gone. Whether it’s Korea, WWI, WWII, Spanish American, Civil War, without understanding that all of that … a thread that ties all of that together is military service, and you are a part of that.’”

The Norwich Record, words

In Your Face: The making of artist Ted Mikulski

From a financial standpoint, taking a black paint pen to his 2003 Nissan 350Z was probably not the most sound decision artist Ted Mikulski M’07 ever made. But in the summer of 2010, Mikulski decided not to worry about resale value or insurance complications: he was “just going to do it.”

He had the clear coat removed from the silver two-door sedan and began drawing. With no preconceived ideas or plan for the finished product, Mikulski painted. Eleven days and 160 hours of painting later, he was done.

He dropped the car off at the body shop so they could put the clear coat back on. When he returned a few days later to pick it up, more than a dozen employees were waiting to talk to him.

“I showed up and they started asking me questions: ‘Were you on drugs when you made this?’ and I said, ‘No, no, I’m not on drugs’…Then the manager comes over and says, ‘I’m actually really happy this car is leaving, because all the employees take breaks and start finding things on the car to look at.’”

Indeed, the gas-powered art display turns heads wherever it goes.

“I’m not a very gaudy person. I don’t … necessarily want to get noticed. And I realized halfway through the project that that’s what was going to happen,” says Mikulski. “But part of the beauty of it is that you are putting art on something that people don’t expect. People unfortunately in today’s world go through the motions. They go to work and they drive home and they do their thing. It’s kind of nice to see something that’s not advertising—that’s just a beautiful piece of art right next to you that you didn’t expect. That can be pretty powerful.”

Some people are confused by the car. But that might be the point for Mikulski, whose artistic inclinations run the gamut from abstract expressionism to sculpture—he likes to get people talking.

With a master’s in architecture from Norwich, Mikulski’s background isn’t typical for the art world. He is also by no means the most famous—or even a representative—alumnus of the school of architecture. But what Mikulski lacks in art-specific education, he more than makes up for with self-promotion: part of a new generation of artists, he uses outside -the-box methods and digital technology to get noticed.

Instead of waiting around to be discovered, Mikulski has thrown himself into the world of cybermarketing: managing websites, Facebook pages, and Tweets galore. Captivated by the power of the Internet, Mikulski has channeled his knowledge of digital technology and big ideas to fuel his career as an artist.

And it seems to be working. In the last several months he’s had a solo exhibit, seen a project “Tweets in Real Life” go viral, been contracted to create customized sculptures, and picked up his second college teaching job.


Growing up, Mikulski attended an all-boys Catholic high school, which he detested.

“I dreaded every morning. I was very quiet and reserved in that school, mostly because I disliked every moment of it. The structure, the pent-up hormonal aggression, but most of all the overbearing religious presence,” he writes on his blog.

To survive, Mikulski sought refuge in the art room, the only place he felt free enough to express his true self.

Ironically, after graduating, he chose another highly structured environment: Norwich.

“There were so many rules and control that I thought I would explode,” he continues on his blog.

His reaction to what he saw as inflexibility, however, helped shape his personality by forcing him to positively channel his energies.

“[The rigidity of the school] is exactly what made me who I am … I do not enjoy lots of rules and regulations, but that’s what turned me on to design and turned on my creativity, and you can’t fault that,” says Mikulski.

And in spite of the formal structure of the school, he did find ways to have some fun at Norwich. Moriah Gavrish ’07, a friend and fellow architecture student, describes how Mikulski organized creative events for the class—including bicycle jousting with cardboard weaponry and extreme sledding, where he attempted flight with a self-constructed hang glider.

“Ted’s a big guy—well over six feet—and he has a big personality that goes with [his height],” says Norwich architecture program director and professor David Woolf. “He’s not a quiet person … He’s not shy. If he has an opinion about something, he will let you know.”

Woolf served as Mikulski’s advisor during his thesis year in which his culminating project was the creation of an architecture school in the 3-D virtual world of “Second Life”—not typical for someone in the architecture program.

“Ted was really interested in digital technology,” says Woolf.  “He took a few art classes, but … I was surprised that he’s become so dedicated and exclusive to art.”

Many architects have “two lives” says Woolf, living in both the world of architecture and also the world of art. One reason may be that while architecture is a hierarchical profession with a very long learning curve and distant rungs up the professional ladder, art has the advantage of being immediately available for creation.

“It was never really my pursuit to be a full-time architect,” says Mikulski. “I wanted to use my architecture degree to do other things, which in my own mind included teaching and perhaps web design.”

So it wasn’t surprising that after graduation he opened a small web design company and eventually started teaching part-time at Tunxis Community College in Connecticut. And although the work suited him, staring at a computer screen day in and day out became tedious after a while, so he decided to set up a little art studio in the basement of his apartment.

“I started painting with no real experience and no real skill set, and I just absolutely loved it,” he says. “I never left that studio.”


He started by diving into the realm of abstract expressionism, which he describes as “essentially paintings of nothing,” both abstract and beautiful. But in the last year he’s moved toward more recognizable art.

“The one thing about abstract expressionism is that it is kind of humorless … I like putting humor into [my] work,” says Mikulski.

Part of the humor in his newer pieces is represented by colorful, robotic characters.

“When I was younger I always thought about how funny it was, that in the ’50s and that time period, they always thought that robots were going to be part of our everyday lives—that they were going to be cooking and cleaning and talking to us and hanging out with us—and yet they designed them to look like microwaves,” he says. “They are very rigid. I just thought that was a very funny aesthetic … and I use it as a metaphor for the possibility of us as humans to be programmed.”

Mikulski experimented with this idea during his solo exhibit, “Color for Color’s Sake,” at the Brother Kenneth Chapman Gallery of Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., last March.

“Ted’s a great communicator and he’s so nice. He’s organized and passionate about his work,” says Madalyn Barbero Jordan, gallery director. “Throughout the whole process it was a pleasure to work with him.”

Mikulski’s exhibit, which focused on the intertwining and interweaving of humanity and the loss of humanity, featured human-sized robots, disembodied human forms, and layered abstract expressionistic canvases, as well as painted sunglasses and sneakers. On top of that, in order to tie in the digital world, Mikulski included QR barcodes on his work that when scanned with an iPhone took viewers to information about the works of art online.

“I draw a lot of inspiration from my everyday world,” says Mikulski. “Van Gogh used to say that he was inspired by the hills and the landscape around him. The hills and landscape around me are billboards and cars and McDonald’s.”

This landscape, paired with Mikulski’s dynamic presence, were something the Iona College students connected with. After his talk he invited them to come back later if they were free and help him take down the show. Several accepted.

“In my six years here, I’ve never seen students come back to help,” recalls Barbero Jordan. “But they did. It’s a testament to him.”

As a thank you, Mikulski handed out free prints from the show. And the icing on the cake? He’s been invited back next year to curate.

Not bad for someone four years out of school with only one art class under his belt.

He’s accomplished it by working hard and creating opportunities for himself through connections and virtual self-promotion. Even the opportunity for the show at Iona came about through a tip from an online friend who works at the college but had never met Mikulski in person.

“You can’t be in your studio working diligently and expect some guy in a suit to show up and say, ‘I’m buying these works. You’re a genius. You are the next big thing.’ That just doesn’t happen anymore. The Internet has really changed the game,” says Mikulski. “You have to get [your art] in front of people and that’s a very difficult thing to do today with an oversaturation of artists and … art in our everyday lives in videos and com mercials …You have to kind of rise above.”

A recent project that has helped him do just that is the popular “Tweets in Real Life,” in which Mikulski affixes Twitter posts to objects in real-world settings and then shoots a photo of them, reposting them online. [] The idea was so popular, it was blogged about on

Among other projects Mikulski has also self-published the book Art is Dead, creating his own publishing company, Artoholic Publishing, LLC, to market and sell it.

Gavrish describes her classmate as a “natural-born entrepreneur.” Mikulski, on the other hand, believes his skills have been born out of necessity.

“I could do without the marketing and all that stuff. I would prefer to have someone else do it for me. Most artists would,” says Mikulski. “As artists, we’re not marketers. We’re not salesmen. But you have to wear a number of different hats these days, and the best artists seem to be able to do that.”

That said, even if no one cared what was up to, he would still be obsessive about his work.

“I’m just trying to get people interested in visual art, even if it’s not my own. My passion is to spread that fever, that joy, that attraction to what visual arts can be. I have to say I’m never going to stop making art. I love it … I cannot stop and no matter what happens in the future, if people totally abandon me, I will still be making art, even if it is on cardboard.”

The Norwich Record, words

Waging Peace

They ferried the empty coffin upriver by motorized canoe. As the engine sputtered to a standstill, former cadet Jeff “JT” Shupe ’89 and his Fijian companions got out, lifted the coffin, and began the long hike in the dense rainforest. Through fields, up a mountain, and through more fields, time dripped like water off the leaves.

At last the village appeared.

Mourners from miles around had gathered to pay their respects. They sat cross-legged on woven mats as the most respected elders began to pass the yagona—a traditional South Pacific ceremonial drink, muddy and grey in its coconut shell bowl.

Story after story poured forth as the bowl passed from hand to hand. Chants and cheers erupted as guests presented gifts to the family. Hundreds of rolled woven mats appeared and multiple gifts of whale’s teeth were bestowed—the highest honor in Fijian culture.

As Shupe took in the scene, a burning question was building. More than four hours into the ceremony, he turned to a companion and asked, “Where is the body?”

“He’s over there,” the man pointed.

In a corner, rolled up in a mat like all the others, lay the deceased.

Then, as it had many times since Shupe began his Peace Corps service in the South Pacific, a Talking Heads song began to replay itself in his head … “You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. You may find yourself in another part of the world. You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife. You may ask yourself, how did I get here?”

The answer, for Shupe, was Norwich’s Peace Corps Preparatory Program (PCPP).

A light bulb goes off
“There are two ways to prevent war,” former Norwich President W. Russell Todd ’50 said, as he announced the school’s new Peace Corps Preparatory Program in September of 1987. “One is to make friends, and the other is to be so strong that nobody wants to attack you. I see the Peace Corps program as being the first.”

As the oldest private military college in the country and the first university in the nation to offer Peace Corps service training, the announcement made headlines. Indeed, the perceived irony of a military school intent on training “a few good men and women … to wage peace,” as Maura Griffin would write in the Montpelier Times Argus, was big news.

Todd had been wracking his brain for a way to deliver a meaningful service experience to the students at Vermont College, which Norwich had acquired in 1972, when his wife, Carol, happened upon an idea.

While at a conference for volunteer administrators, she attended a lecture by former Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh. During his talk, Hesburgh called for the creation of an “ROTC-like” program for students who wanted to serve by being in the Peace Corps rather than the military.

In that moment, Mrs. Todd had an epiphany. She immediately called her husband and pitched the idea.

The president responded enthusiastically.

“That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about, isn’t it?” he told her right then and there. “A leadership experience outside the Corps that can lead to service for our students, non-military service … to the country … to the nation.”

A program is born
JT Shupe wasn’t really thinking about service when he enrolled at Norwich. During high school he admits he “was Michael J. Fox from ‘Family Ties.’” He had grand plans for his life. They began with becoming a military pilot and, using that as a stepping stone, he planned to grow an international real estate empire and eventually begin a consulting business.

While at Norwich though, his life took an abrupt turn. The military was making cutbacks and his dream to become a pilot was cut short. At the same time, he found Christ.

“The Lord took my vision and my plan and said, ‘I have another idea for your life.’”

When the Peace Corps Preparatory Program was created during his junior year, Shupe was one of the first to sign up. Two years later he became the first to finish the program and go on to serve in Fiji.

Today he is Rev. JT Shupe, an associate pastor at Bethany Covenant Church in Bedford, N.H.

Led by Carol Todd, the program was initially financed by a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Its two-year curriculum—designed by former Peace Corps volunteer Tom Taylor (now Dean of Social Sciences) who had served in Ethiopia—prepared students for service in develop ing nations. Taught by former Peace Corps volunteers, it combined classes on world communities, conflict resolution, leadership for change, and development skill with required community service.

In 1990, program director Mitch Hall was hired. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, Hall brought a broad world view and big personality to the program.

In the 10 years of Hall’s tenure, the program averaged 55 students a semester. While only a couple dozen graduates of the program ended up with actual Peace Corps assignments, all of them became involved in community service, and several of the outreach programs created during that time, such as the Youth Mentoring Program in Northfield, still exist today.

In only its fifth year of existence, Norwich’s PCPP was nationally recognized as a model program and honored by Peace Corps Washington, D.C., with a memorandum of cooperation. “All of us here at the Peace Corps,” said Director Elaine Chao, “are quite excited and proud to be joining hands with your university to ensure that our country’s youth are trained as peace makers as well as peace keepers.”

Now celebrating its 51st year, the Peace Corps has had its fair share of NU students and faculty among the more than 200,000 Americans who have served—among them, Professor Taylor’s daughter Amelia ’06, who left for Moldova in 2010.

“I think [the program] attracted different types of people who questioned things and didn’t fit the mold,” says Hall. They were “really bright students” who “wanted to learn about the world.”

Driven to serve
Though students signed onto the PCPP for a wide variety of reasons, one thing they all shared, Hall believes, was the “call of service.”

Mike [Yush] Matarasso ’94 was one of those who answered the call. He wasn’t a stellar high school student, but he had a drive to join the military with the intention of joining Special Operations.

“When I entered university I felt that as a soldier you will go out and help protect people who don’t have any means to defend themselves,” says Matarasso, “but then while I was [at Norwich] I realized you don’t really have a choice of why you enter a conflict, where you go, and whom you protect. You are just an employee of the government and you have to go where they send you […] luckily, I met Mitch, who introduced me to another way to serve.”

While enrolled in the PCPP, Matarasso did a summer service project with the Lakota Sioux and lived with the tribal shaman in the Black Hills.

After graduating from Norwich, Matarasso earned an M.A. at the University of Connecticut in conservation and economic development, did field work in Latin America, and eventually served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi. That experience led to a job for the World Wildlife Fund in Indochina, and finally film school in the Czech Republic. During that time, he learned to speak six languages and wrote a book.

Currently he is responsible for setting up systems to evaluate the impact of $500 million worth of development projects in six African countries.

What he does now, he says, reflects in many ways his reasons for wanting to be in Special Ops.

“You are basically living from nature in some of the remotest places on earth; you are training people to take care of themselves; you are fitting in with the local people; and you know the culture and speak their language. And the driving force is that you want to help people somehow. It’s just a different way of doing it, but deep down it’s because you have some idealism of wanting to help other people.”

Like Shupe, Tom Niner ’92 also had a plan for his life. From as early as he can remember, he had his heart set on being an airborne ranger. When he was finally old enough, he eagerly enrolled at Norwich. But during his freshman year his dreams were dashed when he flunked the Army physical due to hearing loss.

“My heart was broken,” says Niner. “My lifelong dream was killed.”

He couldn’t be in ROTC but he loved Norwich. Around the same time, Evan Schumann ’88 came back to give a talk about his Peace Corps experience in the Solomon Islands—and Niner decided to go and listen.

Schumann’s two-year service as a math teacher in the South Pacific was “one of the best things I could have done,” he told the assembled Norwich students. “You come out a much better human being. You come out with a much better concept of what goes on around the world.”

He went on to explain that being a Norwich graduate made him a little different than some of the other volunteers, but that he wanted to dispel some of the stereotypes of Peace Corps service. “I don’t want everyone to think that the Peace Corps is all for flower children and hippies,” he told his young audience.

Schumann’s speech inspired Niner, who enrolled in the program soon after. He says it was the single most influential part of his Norwich experience.

“I learned more from those classes that made me a better person than [from] anyone else at the school,” says Niner. “They opened my mind. I realized there is more to this world than me going to work, more than me being an engineering student at Norwich.”

Niner was eventually chosen for a Peace Corps slot in the Ivory Coast and went to Philadelphia for orientation.

“They went around the room and asked, ‘Why did you join the Peace Corps?’ I said, ‘To serve my country.’ At the time I had the same haircut as I had in the Corps [of Cadets] and people looked at each other like, ‘what’s up with this whack job?’”

After two years in West Africa, eating pounded yams, living in a family courtyard, and experiencing moments of bribery and corruption, Niner says he developed a greater respect for the United States and what it means to be an American. Today he works as a project manager for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency: the Department of Defense’s official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction.

Schumann also works to counter destruction, but on the ground, while running a Federal Emergency Management Agency urban search and rescue team.

“Our military training was all about service to others,” says Schumann. “I credit Norwich for teaching [me] that.”

Schumann says his Norwich education provided a natural transition to the Peace Corps.

“[The attributes emphasized in the Corps]—courtesy, honor, character … and an ability to engage with the world in a way that shows you have an appreciation for them—are the same,” he says.

A brave new world
As with Schumann and the others, Michael J. Kim ’90 says his Peace Corps training had a life-changing impact.

After getting his BA from Norwich, he initially used his PCPP training to work for the Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program, another option open to graduates which addressed community development challenges within the United States.

Years later, while living a monastic life as a contemplative friar, Kim’s life took an abrupt turn: After September 11, 2001, he felt the need to serve his country in a different way, so he left the religious order and joined the Army as a civil affairs operator.

“I was conflicted over the war in Iraq, but felt morally obligated to serve,” says Kim, “I believed there was a possibility to do good even under difficult circumstances.”

Military service was hardly new to Kim. While at Norwich he was a marine reserves ANGLICO parachutist, and later served as an officer in the Coast Guard. His resume also included a master of arts in religion from Yale, and a post master’s certificate in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. While waiting for his deployment to begin, he worked at the Department of Veterans Affairs on Long Island as a readjustment counseling therapist for the first wave of veterans returning from Iraq.

When it eventually came time to deploy, Kim chose a shorter service contract over an officer’s commitment, reporting to B/415th Civil Affairs BN (Tactical) as an E-4. He quickly found though, that his diverse background allowed him to do many things a regular specialist might not be tasked with.

Approached by a company commander to take a look at the situation at a nearby village, Kim put his PCPP skills to work. Through his community assessment he met Rawan, a 5-year-old Iraqi girl with a congenital heart condition. What followed was not only a quest for the hearts and minds of the village, but more specifically a campaign to repair a little girl’s life.

Kim spearheaded a drive to find Rawan medical care, and, along the way, he created a roadmap for future healthcare projects that the village could manage on their own.

He credits the PCPP and Norwich for teaching him to think critically and for promoting expansive and creative thinking in a military setting.

“The world is changing, and using a primitive military approach is not the answer anymore,” says Kim.

Kim has found that it doesn’t matter whether he is wearing ankle-length friar’s robes or ACUs, the manner in which he conducts his life is essentially the same.

“I think that when you are looking at your existence beyond yourself and your community to causes outside of your immediate desires, that’s a unique expression of service. I was able to find it both in military life and religious life,” he says.

Indeed, in today’s global conflicts, the modern soldier is called upon to do much more than tote a weapon: they must be able to reach out to communities and build relationships in the same spirit that Peace Corps volunteers have been doing for the past 50 years. Norwich, with its tradition of service and emphasis on cross-cultural fluency, has always understood this.

“If you were to ask people you have studied and worked with, what happens in both Afghanistan and Iraq,” says President Emeritus Todd, “you would find that this understanding of the people and their cultures is probably more important than gunnery practice.”

His wife agrees. With both a nephew and grandson who have served in Iraq, she has seen how this understanding can lead to an improved existence.

“We’ve all often thought,” Mrs. Todd says, “what if president Bush had said, instead of ‘go shopping’ when all these terrible things happened [on September 11], ‘we need to pull ourselves together and see how we can help people live a bit different life.’”

The Peace Corps Prepratory Program was discontinued in 2000 during a period of University belt-tightening. However, its ideals of service and greater cultural awareness continue through programs administered by the Center for Civic Engagement.

New Hampshire National Guard, words

Vietnam: Forty Years Later

Warrior Spring 2005He thought that he was going to die. Deep in the jungle of Vietnam, with his position being overrun by Viet Cong and mortar rounds falling, David Copson called for an airstrike.

In the darkness of night, the Concord native radioed the coordinates to a soldier with a New England accent. It turned out the voice hailed from his New Hampshire home. Minutes later, the N.H. National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery, fired a round at the intended target.

It was a direct hit.

In the moments that followed, the men of the 197th sent up an illumination round. By the light, Copson could see the enemy collecting bodies. He ordered another round and within 20 minutes, the situation had been neutralized.

Forty years later, as Copson stood up to tell his story to a panel of 197th Vietnam veterans inside Concord’s Assembly Hall, his voice shook with emotion.

“You guys were unbelievable. Right on the money all the time,” he said, holding the map from that battle, the coordinates still marked with grease pencil. “I owe my existence to the 197th.”

In the time that has passed since their year-long tour, which left seven of their fellow soldiers dead, the men of the 197th have moved on with their lives. They are retired fire chiefs, construction workers, lieutenant colonels and computer specialists. But their memories of the days in the jungle remain.

They took an evening to share some of those memories in front of friends, family and fellow Guardsmen. Organized by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Graham, N.H. Army Guard historian, the panel wove stories about their activation, war, loss and coming home. Now in their late fifties, sixties and seventies, the men are a little grayer than they were in 1969, but their camaraderie, their laughter and their sorrow still hold the timelessness of youth.

Notification over the airwaves

It was the spring of 1968, the men of the 197th were going about life as usual. The situation in Vietnam was volatile, but the country had not yet turned to the National Guard for support. The men of the 3rd Battalion were in various life stages. Eighty percent were married. Most were in their late 20s with 10 years of service already under their belts.

Medic Bill Toland was working at the fire station in Exeter when the news that the 197th was activated came over the radio. He went home for lunch that day to his young son, a pregnant wife, and a bill from Sears and Roebuck that he wasn’t going to be able to pay.

Intelligence Specialist Ed Scully got his notification as a 34th birthday present.

Bob Reeves found out while working a job he hated as a laborer. When he got the news, he thought, “Hell, Vietnam’s got to be better than (this).”

Eighteen-year-old Spc. Frank Derocchi was just a typical high school kid, living large with a new set of wheels.

The battalion’s executive officer, John Sullivan, was sitting in his office at the Portsmouth armory when his wife came in and said, “You’ve been activated.” He called a superior officer who said he would call him back. A few minutes later, the phone rang. “Congratulations,” the general said, “you’re now on active duty.”

These men, as well as 500 of their fellow N.H. soldiers, gathered their gear, said their goodbyes and headed to Fort Bragg, N.C. They were the first N.H. Guard unit to deploy to Vietnam and one of only eight Guard units across the United States to be sent to the conflict.

They were a community of New Hampshire families, fathers, brothers and neighbors from all walks of life. Many had known each other for years. Some were related, others were woven together by neighborhoods and children, schools and work – all were tied by their connection to the Guard.

Sullivan recalled that the leadership at Fort Bragg asked the unit, “How many weeks of training do you need (before you can deploy)?” They answered, “Ten.”

When the 197th arrived in North Carolina,10 weeks is what they got.

Going to war

The airplane ride lasted 27 hours. As they began their descent into Vietnam, Derocchi looked out window and saw smoke billowing from the earth below.

“Holy —-!” he thought in a panic. “All that smoke from the rockets coming in?”

For the first five minutes, he was alarmed. Finally someone told him the smoke was from the burning of human waste from the latrines.

“You see a lot of war movies but the one thing that’s missing is the stench,” said Taylor.

As the back door to the plane opened, the men were given their initial taste of the ever-present odor and their first round of ammunition.

“They cautioned us … if anything moves, shoot it,” said Toland of his first drive up Highway 13, known as Thunder Road.

“I thought it was a joke – but no one laughed.” Along the way, the glass in his windshield shattered from sniper fire.

“I was shaking all over,” Toland said. “If that would have been a real job, I would have quit right then.”

Barnevik remembers drainage ditches covered in slime and the hugest rats the soldiers had ever seen. Tucked into the jungle, the circular fire support stations that the soldiers manned were in 24-hour-a-day danger and needed  360-degree defense.

“We didn’t know who the friends were and who the enemies were,” said Sullivan.

During their time in Vietnam, the men fired over 150,000 rounds from their Howitzers. They became so proficient that once during a firefight they were able to load and fire a round before the last one hit the ground.

Derocchi remembers being young and thirsty for adventure. He volunteered early on to go on a mission up Thunder Road.

The Army had taken the tops off the vehicles for travel, with the idea that it would be easier to launch grenades at the enemy. Unfortunately, it also made it harder for the windshield wipers to be effective during the rain, as the inside of he car’s windshield was being drenched, Derocchi recalled.

The day Derocchi volunteered, while traveling up the road, a land mine killed seven men in a vehicle ahead. “Those moments,” he said, “will last forever.”

Not all the stories were sad, though.

Barnevik recounted the story of Alpha Battery’s “prized possession” – a toilet seat. Using a shipping carton, a 55-gallon barrel and a piece of plywood, the men fashioned a quality jungle latrine.

“This was our pride and joy,” said Barnevik.

One day as a soldier was sitting inside, they heard the distinctive “thump-thump” of incoming fire. Soldiers began screaming, “Incoming Rounds.” The man dove out of the latrine, his pants around his ankles, just in time to avoid a mortar round to the crapper. The soldier ended up “face down on the ground, covered in you-know-what,” said Barnevik.

Coming home

After a harrowing year of sweltering heat, overpowering stench and the constant boom of the Howitzers, it was time for the men to come home. Up to that point, they had lost only two men – Capt. Roland Labonte, killed in action, and another non-combat-related death.

The unit was gathering in the south waiting for everyone to arrive so they could travel home together. They wanted to leave Vietnam as they had arrived, a community of N.H. soldiers.

Less than two weeks before they were scheduled to fly home, Guy Blanchette, Gaetan Beaudoin, Richard Genest, Richard Raymond and Robert Robichaud were traveling south along Thunder Road when their vehicle hit a land mine.

The five men, all from Manchester, were killed.

The battery, Thunder III, where they were located more than half their time in Vietnam, was renamed “Hampshire Field,” and a plaque was placed in their honor. Barnevik said that some day before he dies he wants to go back to that field. “I could find my way in the dark,” he said. “I want to see if that plaque is still there.”

Readjusting to New Hampshire

The soldiers flew into Pease and the arms of their families and children, but they also returned to a climate of disdain. They were told not to wear their uniforms because it wasn’t safe.

Toland remembers that when he came home, the mailman, himself a World War II veteran, said, “Hey, the baby killer is home.”

“I didn’t want anyone to know I had anything to do with Vietnam,” said Toland.

In the year they were gone, their lives had changed. Some divorced. Some had a hard time readjusting to work. Some lost jobs. Even in the smallest of ways, their basic responses had been altered by the war.

Derocchi remembers the day he opened his duffel bag on his mother’s living room floor and saw a “white thing” go by. Thinking that it was a rat, he gave it a “touchdown” kick across the room. It was his mother’s cat.

“She was not impressed,” he said.

Most of the men stayed in the Guard.

“It’s hard for people to understand,” said Barnevik. “Nobody wanted to listen.”

It took years before Barnevik began speaking about his tour in Vietnam to anyone other than the men in his unit.

“I kept it to myself for a long time,” he said. Their shared experiences forged a bond that still exists today.

The group has kept in touch throughout the years, holding reunions and socializing. At one reunion, Toland recalled a visit by the late Dick Genest’s son.

Genest had been well-liked by his fellow soldiers and his death, mere days before leaving Vietnam, had hit them hard. During their tour together, Genest would show Toland pictures of his small son back home.

Toland wasn’t sure how he would feel seeing that boy all grown up.

When Genest’s son walked in the room, Toland said, “ He looked just like his father,” an identical twin. “Even his teeth were the same.” And there, years later, Toland found great pleasure in telling him about his father, about the photos and about the love that the young soldier had for his son.

The men had returned without recognition or gratitude, and closure for many of them was hard in coming. Richard Lavoie kept a journal, which he kept closed for 40 years. He opened it for the first time before the panel discussion.

For some of the men there was a shame that they found hard to let go of. It took Barnevik 20 years after the war to be able to begin to acknowledge and honor his service to the country. At the start of the first Gulf War, he agreed to march in a parade representing N.H. Vietnam veterans. Along the way, Barnevik remembers the crowd rising to give them a standing ovation. It was a recognition the 197th had never received.

“It was the first time I felt like I was coming home.”