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 2023, we have begun to compile some of their stories here.

Thank you for all who serve.

If you are a veteran, please share your story with us.

Allison Bergeron

Allison Bergeron
2017-2021 |  United States Coast Guard
"I will never forget the day of my high school graduation before I shipped off to boot camp, a friend of mine had told me to never let the military break my smile- but to instead change theirs."

Role at OSU: Undergraduate

Lessons learned from the military: During my brief assignment in the military, I learned the core importance of leadership and empathy. While serving under some questionable leaders and shipmates, it became clear to me the kind of leader I will aspire to be someday - and the empathy I will teach my peers and demonstrate as well. I also learned the significance of self-discovery and never allowing yourself to settle for less than you deserve in light of the mission.

Duties in the military: My job in the military was not designated to one specific department. I would perform maritime law enforcement support, boat crew and helicopter operations, ice rescue/safety, security, communications/watch standing, and much more.

Austin Faulkner

Austin Faulkner
2013 | United States Air Force
"Hurry up and wait" every veteran has heard and experienced this at some point in their military career.

Role at OSU: Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences Student

Lessons learned from the military: The military really prepares you for the real world, and in my opinion, gives you strong head start. In the military you learn independence, while also learning how to work with others. You also learn how to grin and bare while going with the flow. Serving in the military for a few years before deciding to college really allowed me to mature and I feel as though that has helped me stay focused and dedicated on my studies.

Duties in the military: I work as a Non-Destructive Inspector for any airframe that I am needed on. My base is home to KC-135 refueling aircraft, so most of my experience has been on heavies. NDI on the civilian side is known as Non-Destructive Testing, both military and civilian attend the same schooling and use the same methods. These testing methods are applicable to bridges, railyards, shipyards, oilfields, powerplants, etc.

Words of wisdom: Most people only think of the military as a weaponized, war machine. While at the end of the day our job is about defending the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, you really get to experience a lot of local humanitarian aid. Hurricane relief, tornado relief, rebuilding homes for veterans, and tons of more great, rewarding task are typically assigned to military members.

James Holt

James Holt
2008-present | United States Coast Guard

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military:  My Coast Guard career has allowed myself and family to live all over the United States. The Coast Guard has taught me how to be flexible and adapt to different situations. Everyday in the Coast Guard is different than the day before, one day I maybe working on the hanger deck fixing a helicopter, and the next day I can be flying off shore in the back of the helicopter as an air crewman, to help rescue a person in need of assistance. Throughout my career i've learned how to challenge myself on a daily basis, manage stress, and take pride in the service that I work for and the many missions that the Coast Guard does on a daily basis.

Duties in the military: Aviation Maintenance Technician and aircrew in the MH60 helicopter.

Words of wisdom: The Coast Guard has allowed me to live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Alabama, Alaska, and California. My favorite duty location has been in Kodiak Alaska.

James A Haller

James A Haller
2018 - December 2022 | Air Force
"My experience in particular was difficult and I struggled quite a bit to adjust and conform to the Military. I went in a clueless 19 year old boy and I came out a 23 year old man, through it I found purpose and motivation, I suffered and through that suffering I gained wisdom and inner strength to feel confident in myself."

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military:

  • Diligence
  • Discipline
  • Willpower
  • Endurance
  • It gave me a purpose in life

Duties in the military: Integrated Avionics Technician for the F-16

Words of wisdom: If you have nothing going for you in life, if you are lost, I recommend it, you'll hate it but you'll be glad you did it in the end.

Rod Keller

Rod Keller
2012-2016 | Marine Corps
"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Role at OSU: Student/Research Assistant

Lessons learned from the military: Attention to detail, discipline, and having a proactive mindset.

Duties in the military: Landing support specialist

David "Moose" Larson

2005 - 2012 | US Army
"I think the best way to honor veterans and the fallen is to stop sending our young people to war."

Role at OSU: Laboratory Assistant

Lessons learned from the military:

1) It can almost always be worse, when I'm having a rotten day, car won't start, no money for bills, the bakery didn't have apple fritters, and I'm grumbling about it I take time and remember, no body shot at me, the roads didn't explode, and I could be doing everything at MOPP level 3.

2) I learned that many people greatly underestimate themselves, folks think they can't do things and never try. Try, you might surprise yourself.

3)War highlights the best and worst of humanity.

Duties in the military: I was a Combat Engineer, we did the things Infantry is too proud to do, and the things other engineers are too lazy to do.

Words of Wisdom: I've struggled to find meaning in my service. I am proud that in the heat of it I didn't fail my friends and let them down, I ain't proud of the war though, all it did was make a few people ungodly amounts of money at the expense of many fine young men and women, and many a innocent bystander. I struggle with that, my generations war wasn't like the second World War where our fore bearers fought to stomp out fascism, at least in August of 1945 the Nazi Riche was destroyed, and there was meaning to the struggle. For us who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world wasn't bettered by our sacrifice.

Melissa Marsh

2012-2018 | United States Air Force
"Pilots can't math and that's okay"

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military:

A solid trustworthy social group is good for moral.

Don't become that toxic leader you had and instead take their failures and learn to be a better individual.

The handwork we were required to do in the military is now a desirable trait in civilian life (so it wasn't all for nothing!)

Duties in the military: Aviation Resource Managment for the RPA community

Words of wisdom: Spending your entire twenties in the military then leaving and coming back to essentially create something new is hard, especially when you are older and have a family. A complete career transition from military to student life is difficult! Don't get stuck in the post-transition position forever, seek help if you need it.

Robert Lovell

Robert Lovell
2004-current | Army
"No one cares more about your personal success than you."

Role at OSU: Ecampus Student

Lessons learned from the military:

  • Team Work
  • Discipline
  • Time Management

Duties in the military: Infantry (Front line ground forces)

Words of wisdom: The military really helped me mature as an individual and set me up for success in school. The discipline to do what is right and to understanding of time management has helped me succeed so far in my studies.

Adam McPhail

Adam McPhail
2016-present | United States Air Force
"Be the change you want to see!"

Role at OSU: Online Student

Lessons learned from the military: I learned how to be more understanding, people come from all different walks of life.  Being a leader you have to learn about your troops and show them that you genuinely care about them so when it’s time for them to follow you there isn’t any hesitation!

Duties in the military: I am Current a C-5M Super Galaxy Flying Crew Chief! I am an aircraft mechanic that flies with the plane and if/when it breaks it’s solely up to me to fix it.

Words of wisdom: Always check on your friends and family, you never know what people are going through!

Heather Murphy

Heather Murphy
2008-2013 | US Marine Corps
"I was one of the very few women that were Huey crew chiefs. I was surrounded by men that never believed I belonged. On the good days, it was merely exhausting. I still don't have the words for all the other days."

Role at OSU: Rangeland Sciences Undergraduate

Lessons learned from the military: I learned mental toughness and how to endure all things.

Duties in the military: I was a 6174, a Huey crew chief

Theodore Nuss

Theodore Nuss
2008-2015 | United States Marine Corps
"When in doubt, increase elevation or blame EMI."

Role at OSU: Undergraduate Senior

Lessons learned from the military: Good friends improve any situation.

Duties in the military: Signals Intelligence Operator

Christian Sanchrz

Christian Sanchrz
2012-2016 | United State Marine Crops
"The marines was a physically and mentally stressful environment to be to be exposed to as a young 18, 19 years old kid, but it really prepared me for the hardships of life. The Marines gave me a mental toughness that is hard to duplicate outside of the service. Still to this day, I live by some of the marines' core values and ethos: adapt and overcome, know yourself and seek self-improvement, and have strong mental toughness."

Role at OSU: Horticultural student

Lessons learned from the military: Discipline, mission accomplishment, troop wealth fair, working long hours, attention to detail, self-accountability, teamwork/collaboration.

Duties in the military: I was a field radio operator attached to an artillery unit; 10th Marines Battery.

Words of wisdom: As much as the Marine made me who I am, I am so much happier to be a civilian going to school.

Michael Scott

Michael Scott
1976-1998 | Air Force

Role at OSU: alumni

Lessons learned from the military: leadership, discipline

Duties in the military: F-4 Weapons System Officer

Devan Sessions

2012-2016 | Marine Corps

Role at OSU: Student

Duties in the military: Water support technician

Paul Skillin

Paul Skillin
2014-2018 | Army Active Duty, followed by Army National Guard
"My time in the Army was probably the single experience that most shaped who I am today."

Role at OSU: Graduate Research Associate/Student

Lessons learned from the military: How I work under stressful conditions, I decided what I wanted to pursue after my time in the Army partially based on my Army experience and time, I learned how to organize and lead groups, how to work as part of a team, and I learned how to quickly present information in a way that would be appreciated by people who had little time to spare.

Developing a good work ethic was probably my most important lesson learned.

Duties in the military: Combat Engineer Team Leader, with several minor roles.

Words of wisdom:My time in the Army is also how I met my wife and showed me what I valued most.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith
8 years | Army
"Hurry up and wait."

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: I learned to be resilient, and humble.

Duties in the military: Combat medic.

Lui J Vargas Ruiz

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

Role at OSU: Student

Lessons learned from the military: I learned that it is important to have respect for the people around you. Showing them respect lets them know that you trust them, and that makes for stronger relationships, and a comfortable atmosphere to be around.

Duties in the military: Vehicle Maintenance

Phoenix Villanueva

Phoenix Villanueva
2013 - 2019 | Air Force
" I have met lifelong friends through circumstances that most people won't experience. I have also gained long lasting life knowledge because of Air Traffic Control. As difficult as it was sometimes, I would proudly do it all over. Who I am today is a reflection of the everyone in the community who's contributed to putting in time to mentor me as a young woman and an Airman. I am proud to have been apart of the mission, the Air Force, and the military."

Role at OSU: Horticulture major

Lessons learned from the military: One of the most important lessons I've learned from the military is the importance of resiliency and adaptability.

Resiliency is so important because it creates a mental and physical toughness to work through stressors at work and in everyday life. When you realize how easy it is to alter your attitude towards new situations (new jobs, new surroundings, new people, etc) and see it as growth, it becomes so much less daunting and so much more enjoyable.

Duties in the military: I was an Air Traffic Controller for both the Radar Approach Control and Tower.

Words of wisdom: I initially joined for all of the reasons a young person would join the military and in return I received so much more. I am thankful for my experience.

John J. Zielinski

7 years in the National Guard | Army
"How much the USA tries to help the rest of the world "

Role at OSU: Faculty, Seed Certification Specialist

Lessons learned from the military: How much I loved my Country, and how to work and deal with people.

Duties in the military: Wheel Vehicle Mechanic, Supervisor of the Shops

OSU Programs for Veterans