College of AgSci Veterans

The College of Agricultural Sciences is fortunate to benefit from the contributions of many current and former members of the U.S. military — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and many others.

In honor of Veterans Day 2021, we have begun to compile some of their stories here.

Thank you for all who serve.

Christina Curran

Christina Curran
2003 - 2018 | United States Air Force
"People first and the mission will follow."

Role at OSU: Senior

Lessons learned from the military: If you take care of your people, they will take care of you.  The mission comes first and the better the morale, the harder your people will work to get that mission done.  Always remember, your integrity takes a second to loose and a life time to repair.

Duties in the military: I was a maintenance analyst and database manager for the B-2 Bomber at Whiteman Air Force Base.  After which I transferred to Maxwell Air Force Base - Gunter Annex where I managed an amazing team testing and designing the system to best utilize todays modern workforce that are tracking and analyzing data for the aircraft throughout the Air Force.

Chris Chappell

Chris Chappell
2009-2015 | United States Air Force
For those that fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.

Role at OSU: Student, PSMFWA

Lessons learned from the military: Diversity is strength. During my time in the military I had the opportunity to serve with so many different people from all over the country. When I deployed, I even fought alongside military members of foreign countries. I began to recognize how our differences make us stronger. Much like puzzle pieces, if every piece is exactly the same, they'll never fit together. I have such a great understanding and respect for differences of culture now that I didn't have before. Whether I agree with certain things or not, I at least can understand it. It's difficult to describe the sort of things learned in military service since one can only learn them by being there and doing it. No amount of formal education can bestow the same knowledge. I learned a lot about myself and how I fit into the world, thought it wasn't at all easy. I volunteered to do something that most people choose not to do, and in that I found pride and satisfaction. The military helped shape me into the man I am today and without it, I likely wouldn't have the discipline, drive, and motivation to achieve my goals.

Duties in the military: 3D153 - RF Transmissions specialist. I worked with ground radio communications in an air operations center.

Words of wisdom: There is something inherently unique and ironic about raising your right hand to swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States only for it to no longer apply to you.

Isaac Gatchet

Isaac Gatchet
2010-2018 | Army
"Embrace the suck!"

Role at OSU: Transfer

Lessons learned from the military:

  • To be humble
  • You can push your body further than you think

Duties in the military: 19D Cavalry Scout

Words of wisdom: Donate to a local veteran foundation! Every penny helps!

Adam R. Hugoboom

Adam R. Hugoboom
2006-Current | Marine Corps
Leadership is about caring. If you don’t care, you can’t lead. And if you can’t lead, get out of the way.

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military:

Firstly, There is so much more to the world than life than what we see on the news or on Facebook. The only way to truly experience the world is to travel to places you never thought to go…meet the people, taste the food, make mistakes and learn. It provides perspective.

Secondly… be a leader. There is someone watching your moves at every turn and in every decision you make, you have the opportunity to set an example.

Lead others by being the example you would want your children, or mother, or sibling to see.

Duties in the military: Signals Intelligence Communicator

Madison Jenkins

Madison Jenkins
2015-2022 | Army
"Despite it's difficulties, I cherish my experience and have grown as a person from it."

Role at OSU: Junior

Lessons learned from the military: I learned how to be by myself, and I learned a lot about animal medicine. I met a lot of really good friends along the way, and I learned that there is so much more to the world than I ever thought possible.

Duties in the military: I was a veterinary technician.

Words of wisdom: The military is not for the faint of heart, but can be very rewarding if you choose to take advantage of all the opportunities thrown your way. I think that can be said for anyone regardless of their job.

Jeffrey Jenkins

Jeffrey Jenkins
1973-1976 | Army
"With an enlisted rank of Specialist 4, when instructing from the podium I outranked everyone in the room, enlisted or officer."

Role at OSU: Professor

Lessons learned from the military: As an college student during the Vietnam war I had negative feelings about the military. Upon graduation I was draftable but decided to join. My military experience provided maturity and respect for those who serve.

Duties in the military: With a degree in Biochemistry, I served in the Army Medical Corps as an instructor in clinical chemistry at the Academy of Health Sciences, Fort Sam Houston, TX. Students who completed both basic and advanced courses received an associate degree from Baylor University.

Words of wisdom: As a Vietnam era veteran, I am surprised and pleased nearly 50 years later being recognized for my service.

Jeremy Jennings

Jeremy Jennings
2000-2008 | Army
"If you stop sleeping for long enough, the Army actually makes sense."

Role at OSU: MS student/GRA

Lessons learned from the military: Commitment & perseverance can take you to the finish line, every time.

Duties in the military: Field artillery targeting and communications

Jessica McClung-Gorski

Jessica McClung-Gorski
January 2011 - December 2015 | US Army
"Anyone that tells you you'll never get paid to look out windows is a liar."

Role at OSU: Wildlife Management Graduate Certificate Student

Lessons learned from the military:

  • Stop, listen and learn. Everyone has a unique story and you could learn from their experiences.
  • You get no respect from telling people what to do. Respect is given when you show people what to do.
  • In everything you do, be confident. You are more capable than you realize.

Duties in the military:

I was a UH60 Blackhawk Helicopter Repairer & Crewchief. My primary function was to perform maintenance on UH60 helicopters. We worked in teams of 2-4 people and occasionally solo. Everything from engines, to blades, to transmissions...if it was attached to that helicopter, we fixed, repaired, or replaced it. I was also tasked with crewing duties. To put it simply, I was a glorified backseat driver and an extra set of eyes for the pilots. My responsibilities were to keep all passengers safe, secure and stow any cargo, and assist the pilots with maneuvers throughout the airspace. Everything under the rotor disc was my responsibility and I held the safety of my aircraft, pilots, and passengers as a sacred duty.

Words of wisdom: Life comes fast and hard. You can't anticipate everything that may happen. Roll with the punches and be adaptable. And always treat others as you yourself would want to be treated.

Heather Murphy

Heather Murphy
2008-2013 | US Marine Corps

Role at OSU: Undergraduate

Lessons learned from the military: Discipline is everything. The discipline I learned in the Marines makes me more successful as a student. I am an e-campus student, and creating and sticking to a schedule is how I manage my school time efficiently. I put in the time and effort to get the most from my classes, even if it means giving up more enjoyable things. I feel I would have a much harder time staying on task and getting work done without the level of discipline I have.

Duties in the military: I was a 6174, also known as a Huey Crew chief. I was part of the flight crew and spent a lot of hours in the air looking down on the Earth. When I joined I was one of six women doing my job, it was a hard fight for a place at the table.

Tracy Onufer

Tracy Onufer
1996-2021; Colonel (retired) as of 1 Nov 21 | Air Force
"Leadership is not a popularity contest."
"Don't mistake kindness for weakness."
"Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
"You can run but you'll only die tired."  (AC-130 gunship motto)

Role at OSU: FST Undergrad Student

Lessons learned from the military:

Everyone won't like you, which is okay as long as they respect you.

Similarly, it's okay to be tough, as long as you're fair.

The bonds and friendships you build in the military are like no other.

People you wouldn't typically be friends with in "normal" life become part of your tribe because of your shared experiences.  It's never "goodbye" - it's "see you later."  You can go years without seeing someone but when you do, you pick up like you just saw them yesterday.

There's a fine line between being "one of the guys" and tolerating behavior that's not okay.

Duties in the military: I was an Electronic Warfare Officer on

AC-130 gunships for half of my career, then served in multiple leadership

positions:  squadron commander, vice wing commander, and chief of staff of a joint special operations headquarters.

I was the first female commander of the 16th Special Operations Squadron, which dated back to Vietnam.

Words of Wisdom:

The mission is always important, but without motivated people, the mission will suffer.  As a leader, I tried to focus more on the people and their well-being so they could focus on the mission.

Clinton Pruss

Clinton Pruss
2001 - Present | US Coast Guard
"Semper Paratus …and willing to support and build each other up!"

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: Friendship and respect for others from different walks of life.

Duties in the military: I am a Marine Science Technician at the Atlantic Strike Team at Fort Dix, New Jersey. I specialize in oil and hazmat prevention, response and removal.

Melissa Ann Reed

Melissa Ann Reed
1999-2021 | Navy
"I owe everything I am now to my time in the Navy.  I was able to work and travel to places that I would have never been able to see on my own."

Role at OSU: Senior

Lessons learned from the military: There are so many things I could not list them all.  I am who I am today because of the Navy.  I learned to be a part of something greater than myself.  I learned leadership and how to be a leader but also how to be a follower and sometimes we need to be good at both.  I learned respect and chain of command.  I learned so much about the world from my travels and the places I was able to see.

Duties in the military: I enlisted in 1999 and started as an Electronic Warfare Technician (EW).  We changed rates and I became a Cryptologic Technician Technical (CTT).  In 2010 I was accepted for the Limited Duty Officer program and I was commissioned as an Cryptologic Warfare Officer.  I retired as a Lieutenant (O-3E).

Words of wisdom: I am forever thankful and grateful for my time in the Navy.  I have seen the world and retired at 42.  I am able to go to school using my GI Bill and finish my degree, a goal I have had for many years.

Erik Simmons

Erik Simmons
1984-88, 1993-2009 | US Navy, Army National Guard, Air National Guard
"Twenty years, three branches, saw the world, played with some really cool & loud toys, and lost a bunch of my hearing... and wouldn't change a dang thing."

Role at OSU: Art Director, College of Agricultural Sciences Marketing and Communications

Lessons learned from the military: Wow, there are many. Probably the biggest is simply to always do my absolutely best, while taking care of those within my charge.

Duties in the military:

Navy: Fire-Controlman i.e. maintained and operated missile guidance radar.

Army: Infantry

Air National Guard: Multimedia/Public Affairs

Words of wisdom: Happy I served, but glad to be retired.

Bryan Sherlock

Bryan Sherlock with Chuck Norris and Marshall Teague
1991-1995 & 2002-2018 |  Navy, Navy Reserve, Oregon National Guard
"My time in the military provided me with an education in multiple ways. I have learned life experiences that you will never get from any school or book. Now I'm ready to expand my education at OSU."

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: During my time in the military, I was able to travel to many countries around the world. Those experiences have given me an appreciation and understanding of different cultures and people's way of life. In addition, my time in the military taught me discipline, leadership, and to take responsibility for my actions.

Duties in the military: I worked in supply. I made sure that people got the items they needed to complete their mission.

It was also awesome that I met Chuck Norris and Marshall Teague on their USO tour of Iraq.


USS Niagara Falls deployed to the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Somalia to support Operation Southern Watch & Operation Restore Hope 1992 – 1993.

Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 deployed to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom 2006 – 2007.

1249th Engineering Battalion Oregon Army National Guard deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation enduring Freedom 2010 – 2011.

Luis J Vargas Ruiz

Luis J Vargas Ruiz
2015-2019 | Air Force
"Embrace the Suck!"

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: Taking care of your health and remembering why you are working on your goals is crucial. These two things allow you to stay positive even when times get tough.

Duties in the military: Vehicle Mechanic

Words of wisdom: If you ever run into an older veteran, you should take the time and ask him about his stories. You can learn a lot about life just from a simple conversation with someone who's been put through the wringer. Even thanking them for their service will put a smile on their face. Let's not take them for granted, Go Beavs!!

Doug Thompson

Doug Thompson
Active 2008-2016, Reserves 2017-2021 | Navy
"If you can't learn a lesson from watching someone in front of you, you're probably going to be the example for those behind you. Always be ready to learn new things."

Role at OSU: Senior in BioResource Research

Lessons learned from the military: The primary lessons I've learned were staying with something until the end, and having the ability to own mistakes and improve myself both for my benefit and to serve as an example to those that are following in my footsteps. Another thing that was stuck with me was "The true measure of a person is not what they do when everyone is looking, but what they do when no one is looking."

Duties in the military: Tomahawk Technician, Yeoman

Words of wisdom: I spent all of my enlistment abroad. I implore those that are able to spend some time traveling. Sometimes putting yourself in new situations can teach the best things.

Carl Wallis

Carl Wallis
2012 to current | United States Marine Corps and Army National Guard
"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem." Ronald Reagan.

Role at OSU: Sophomore student

Lessons learned from the military: I have learned discipline, compassion, respect, and grew a desire for learning and wanting to improve the world for future generations to come.

Duties in the military: I have served in the infantry in both branches of the military. I was a 0352, antitank assault guided missile man, in the United States Marine Corps. In the Army I am a 11b. Just a normal infantry soldier.

Seth Sponcey

2009-2014 | Army
"The life you live is all about the choices you make, the friends you have after your 40 and the lessons you learn on the way."

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: I would say that the biggest lesson learned is that if you fail, just get up and do it again, and keep progressing forward until you have reached what you wanted to accomplish and then surpass that goal and keep moving forward. Some of the most important things that I learned that came out of my years in the military is that no matter what you are not alone in this endeavor you are trying to take on.

Their is such a diverse class of people from big and small, to young and old, and every other type of variable in between that some one is probably going through the same thing you are.

Duties in the military: The job I was trained to do in the military was to be a Microwave systems operator/maintainer. I worked inside a technical control facility that was located inside a mountain. It was the most amazing experience I ever had, and we were in charge of keeping the communications lines open between higher ranking officers in the 8th Army and other high ranking officials in  the states.

Words of wisdom: I would just tell anyone who is a parent that is going to school online or in person that you should never give up on what you want to accomplish. We all have those terms at school were everything goes great and then we have other ones were everything is falling apart. This is a valuable lesson in who we will become in life and the reward of accomplishing something no one else, but you and the experiences you have gone through can say. There is a quote that I would like to leave and if it hits and makes you think then it did its job. The quote is from Virgil, The

Aeneid: “The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way: But to return, and view the cheerful skies, In this the task and mighty labor lies.”

Ryan Stevenson

2002-2016 | Air Force and Army
"Ordinary people doing extraordinary things because of courage and selfless service."

Role at OSU: post -B.S. student

Lessons learned from the military: Learned about leadership, dedication, patience and communication. Teamwork will over come any obstacle or barrier.

People have more in common than differences.

Duties in the military: Military Police

Words of wisdom: Traveled the world and was able to work with people from all types of backgrounds.