Forum shows life as a U.S. soldier, student

by Tara MaurerStaff Writer

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Simpson students were enlightened about the U.S. Military during a War Forum. Two of the speakers were Simpson’s own: Specialist freshman Andrea Hardy and Former Specialist senior Darrin Seamster. The third speaker, 1st Sergeant Dean Kennebeck, served with Hardy in Iraq.

Although many different aspects of the military were discussed, the main theme taken away from this forum was that soldiers are just like the rest of us. Their time isn’t always filled with warfare.

Some soldiers have the opportunity to swim, play baseball, grill burgers and sometimes even make homemade films.

Organized by Hardy, the forum originally was proposed by CoryAnne Harrigan, associate professor of English, after hearing Hardy read her English paper about the war in class.

“People were really interested,” Harrigan said. “They had more questions than she could answer in class so I proposed the forum.”

During the forum, all three soldiers discussed their role and everyday life in the military.

Seamster, who served in the Army for four years, worked as a combat medic in Samara, Iraq. Hardy served in Baghdad as part of the National Guard. Working at the Strategy Debriefing Center, Hardy guarded prisoners and acted as a sort of secretary to the compound.

Kennebeck spoke about his job, which was to act as the “mom and dad of the soldiers.”

“My job is to make sure their morale is up and well and that they are in good spirits,” Kennebeck said. “When they spend too much time sitting in a corner somewhere not talking to anyone that’s when I need to get involved more and boost their morale. When you’ve got guys going out on patrol and seeing their buddies get injured and killed and not being able to put them back together, it takes a toll on people. Part of my job is to make sure that is all put aside.”

Overall, students enjoyed the forum. Freshman Jay Hackett, like many others, was surprised at what he heard.

“It was interesting to find out how our soldiers and the armed forces act,” Hackett said. “I was surprised that the soldiers had free time and that they grilled out and that they are like normal people. I thought they did a good job covering everything.”

Freshman MaKenna Dopheide agreed with Hackett.

“I thought it was really uplifting so you know that everything isn’t as bad as the media puts it out to be,” Dopheide said. “I really liked the slideshow. I was surprised how much down time they had and how most of them didn’t see a lot of action and how they said they still had a lot of fun and it wasn’t always dreary.”

However, although students enjoyed the forum, some people in the audience still wished that they could have heard more about the cultural aspects of being in Iraq.

“I thought it was really interesting,” sophomore Dana Lain said. “It was really enjoyable to hear about their daily lives in Iraq. I thought they would talk more about the culture in Iraq and how it affected them, but they didn’t. But it was cool though how they say they went swimming…It’s cool to see the other side and not just what you imagine.”

In the end, all three soldiers said they learned valuable life lessons and were greatly affected by their time in Iraq.

Hardy said that being in the military made her more calm and level-headed.

Seamster gained confidence through his work as a medic and had a complete change on his outlook of life.

Finally, Kennebeck emphasized how being in the war built his confidence and taught him teamwork.