Veterans Day is this Saturday. A day to pay tribute to those who have served in this country’s military, who pledged to represent America with honor, who took an oath of service and sacrifice.
A day of pride for those with memories of training, travel, friends, and life changing experiences, challenges, horrors, loss, pain, and of weakness as well as strength. Cities and towns will celebrate the day with a parades of men and women young and old walking or being pushed in wheelchairs with flag in hand and children watching in youthful admiration.
Sinclair has more veterans walking its halls than you’d think. Some are obvious with clean haircuts and proud strides. Others have perfected being a civilian again and can blend with the crowd. All have come to Sinclair to pursue a life beyond what’s possible under the comfortable confines of a military contract.
Many veterans surprisingly work for the school newspaper, here at the Clarion. There’s six of us, all with different jobs and majors and from different branches and duties. Six veterans working to bring the news to readers.
I find it interesting that so many who served in the military now aspire to serve the public in journalism. I’ve met several in classes, and follow many on social media. Many who’ve left one life of risk and sacrifice to enter another.
The Clarion staff represents all four branches, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. We all work for different goals, but have much in common in the way of discipline and some secret bond of shared experience and brotherhood.
The Clarion’s business manager, Ebony Stroud served in the Navy from 2011 to 2015 as a Quartermaster onboard CVN 71 USS Theodore Roosevelt. One of her duties was to steer the $4.5 billion city on the sea across the Atlantic to England, then Italy, Bahrain and Dubai.
Ebony entered the Navy right after graduating from high school. “Even though it was a difficult experience, I did benefit from friendships and experiences, which helped me to mature and to grow as a person,” Stroud said.
Clarion reporter and photographer, Daniel Riley served as an 11B infantryman of the 101st Airborne Division from early 2001 to 2014. He continued to serve as 42A as a reservist until 2017. Daniel has five combat deployments in his past, including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Daniel ultimately deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq three times, with missions ranging from invasion to security to support of Iraqi and Afghan forces.
“I want to be a war correspondent and a photojournalist,” Riley said. “I want to tell honest stories of soldiers, not just American soldiers, and I want to tell about the good that soldiers do as well as the indifferent.”
Daniel reflects on those who he grew close to before losing in combat on this Veterans Day: Sgt. Richardson, PFC Kropat, SSgt. Vanderhorn and SPC Tinnell.
Xavier Razo is an Air Force retiree and one of the Clarion’s graphic designers, after serving the country for 22 years. Xavier began his service in 1994 and retired in 2016. He began his enlistment as an 88M vehicle operator, worked as a recruiter and in the post office and ended in intelligence collection. He deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.
Xavier chose Sinclair because he loves Dayton, and studies visual communication because, “Visual communication was a hobby which turned into a passion.”
Xavier is proud of his service. “It was the best 22 years of my life and I would do it again, except I’d get my degree first,” Razo said. “I’m thankful for what I got out of serving, the free education and that I’m still young enough to do what I love to do.”
Clarion photographer, JuanGabriel Encarnacion served in the Army as a 92Y, unit supply specialist stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“I have always loved to take pictures for fun,” Encarnacion said. “I wanted to see if I could step forward with my hobby. You’ll never know what you can do in life unless you try it.”
Reporter Paul Helmers served as a US Marine and 5974, tactical data systems administrator between 2010 and 2015. He served at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in 2013.
“I came back home to reevaluate where I was going, and I came to Sinclair to reestablish myself as a student,” Helmers said. “I decided to pursue a career in sports journalism after thinking about things that I really enjoy, and I really enjoy sports and feel like I can make a career out of reporting about them.”
I am an editor at The Clarion, and served in the Navy between 2006 and 2011 as a Seabee. I was a builder and a Petty Officer in NMCB 74, and deployed to Anbar province, Iraq, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and various places in Afghanistan including Kunduz, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Ghazni. I remember on days like Veterans Day, men like Chief Petty Officer Ray Border and CE2 Charles Komppa.
Reporting the news, to me, is more important now than ever. Government policy and world events shape an unforeseeable future of advanced technology, unpredictable weather, and continued battles over ideas and resources. Good reporters are in high demand and low supply, leaving these important stories either untold or unreliable.
With that vague appreciation for journalism said, I’m a Sinclair student with the goal of becoming a better communicator, organizer and story teller. I want to make myself more marketable in whichever field I fall into as a career, whether that be construction or journalism or anything, I’m open.
And so on Veterans Day thank a veteran, reflect on what that means, consider what our nation’s servicemembers do and experience. Think about your journalists too.