by Rebecca Ernst Lange
Remember the students walking around in a military uniform on Thursdays? They marched on Balch Courtyard regardless of the weather; they sat beside you in calculus, ate lunch with you in the UMC and lived in your freshman dorm. Ever wonder what happened to them? In this edition of “CU Voices,” I am honored to highlight my fellow alums who now wear the Air Force blue.
The “voices” of CU’s military alumni can be heard around the world. They’ve traveled to each continent and participated in every military and humanitarian operation you see on television, plus many more that never make the news.
Our voices call in air strikes to save troops under enemy fire, request blood transfusions for wounded warriors and teach Iraqis how to fly aircraft, building a foundation for that country’s air force. These same voices comfort families of the fallen, reassure injured Airmen and reminisce with veterans who have gone before us.
On Dec. 30, 2007, the voice of Air Force Captain Ben Donberg (Aero, M’03), shown with the “CU Strike Eagle, ” provided reassurance to British troops under fire in southern Afghanistan. His F-15E fighter jet dropped 500-pound laser guided bombs on enemy positions. The voice on the other end requesting that airpower? None other than Prince Harry, Britain’s third in line to the throne.
Trained to speak Turkish, Arabic and French, another fellow alum (unnamed due to security reasons) uses his voice to conduct counterintelligence operations and criminal investigations overseas. Often deployed throughout the Middle East and Africa, the Air Force relies heavily on his skills to communicate with foreign dignitaries and foster international relationships.
Captain Nadja (Frank) Turek (CivEngr’00) uses her voice to teach graduate level civil engineering courses at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. Her graduates become leaders in the Air Force and ensure we remain at the tip of the spear in research and development.
Another alum in the engineering field, Captain Kristina Selstrom (CivEngr’99), maintains and executes the infrastructure plan for 50,000-plus coalition forces at Baghdad International Airport and also assesses facilities and creates plans for future development in the area.
These CU alums learned their trade in the same classroom as you. On graduation day, hours after receiving their degree, they raised their right hand and took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States, which includes every citizen’s right to free speech. Regardless of your political views or opinions on current events, you must know how proud we AFROTC alums are of our Boulder roots. Just like you, we reminisce when listening to Dave Matthews, we dream about lying in the grass and staring at the Flatirons and we feel the adrenaline rush when we hear the CU Fight Song.
CU-Boulder boasts one of the largest and most successful Air Force ROTC detachments in the country. We’re a family, bonded by early morning physical training sessions, delicately balancing our military commitment with academics, jobs and enjoying Boulder.We were patriotic before patriotism was cool and, at a young age, committed our lives to the freedom of this great nation.
Our crew cuts may seem to be at odds with dreadlocks, but believe me, we pride ourselves on having attended a university that demands and thrives on diverse opinions, passions and goals, and we take those lessons with us as we represent our nation around the globe.
You will never hear these voices ask for anything in return. You will never hear them fade or run from any challenge, adversity or enemy. With our Marine, Army and Navy brethren around the world, rest assured the sun never sets on a Colorado Buffalo in uniform!