Life is anything but typical for 20-year-old University of Connecticut student, Michael Anderson. While many of his peers were busy attending classes and studying for exams, Anderson was occupied by the war on terror. The Army Reserve Sergeant from Rocky Hill, Conn., told Quinnipiac University students on Oct. 6 what it was like to be stationed in Iraq for eight months. Sean Lyons, assistant professor of journalism, arranged for Anderson to share his experiences in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room last Thursday.
As an intelligence analyst and a gunner, Anderson’s daily activities consisted of briefing the colonel on Iraqi insurgent movements and gathering information regarding the trends of the terrorist attacks to aid in local missions. Anderson’s Army Reserve Unit would frequently travel to the Iraqi villages to donate food, build schools and interact with the people.
“I think we did a lot of good things over there and some people here may not see that,” Anderson said. “It was great seeing how thankful the Iraqi people were for our help and it showed that what we are doing over there definitely helps. They call us the United States of Freedom.”
While deployed in Iraq, Anderson was wounded by a piece of shrapnel that had flown from an explosion near by and hit him in the side. As a result of his injury, Anderson required several surgeries on his ruptured spleen and severed elbow nerves and was evacuated from Iraq.
“I felt like I hit a brick wall. There was a cloud of dust and I realized what had happened. I felt a burning pain on my left side,” Anderson, who actually received second degree burns from the heat, said. “I actually thought that I was going to die…It was a big relief when I realized I was going to live.”
After returning home, Anderson was not only rewarded the Purple Heart from U.S. Senator John McCain, he also got to meet President Bush, the Washington Redskins’ cheerleaders and comedians Rob Schneider and Adam Sandler.
Although Anderson does not believe he will be going back to Iraq anytime soon, he appreciates the memories from his experiences with his fellow servicemen.
“Some of my best friends are in the Army. I try to keep in touch with some of them and I remember all of them,” said Anderson, who enjoyed having his eyes opened to a different culture.
More than 50 students and members of the Quinnipiac community attended the event, including two Quinnipiac students who are on academic leave. Tim Wrenn and Juan Ocampos are in the military and will soon be deploying to Iraq.
“I am anxious to go on my first tour and get it done,” said sophomore Ocampos.
Other Quinnipiac students found the presentation informational as well.
“The speaker was extremely interesting and he gave me a whole new perspective on the war in Iraq. I never realized how much the soldiers are doing in Iraq until now,” said Jennifer Napiorski, sophomore psychology major.