Six Elon veterans relive their lives in war and at peace

Anton L. Delgado | Assistant News Editor | @JADelgadoNews | November 10, 2017

Driving a BioBus, teaching a class, directing Physical Plant, serving in the Registrar’s Office and working toward a Master of Business Administration are all jobs being done today by veterans at Elon University.

Students, faculty and staff walk past veterans every day without ever knowing what they did for their country.

Six Elon veteran’s years of service took each of them through many of the United States’ worst conflicts. By serving in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan, some saw conflict as early as the 1950s and as late as 2012.

Elon has more than 20 veterans on campus, according to the Veterans Day Committee. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs reports there are almost 10,000 veterans in Alamance County alone.

With Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the Elon community will gather to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Team Hero, a student organization dedicated to supporting veterans and active service personnel has been working closely with the Veterans Day Committee to organize the ceremony.

“It is so important to recognize the people who have sacrificed so much to give us the opportunity to live our lives and go to a school like Elon,” said sophomore Isabella Ponterio, president of Team Hero. “It is easy to forget there are people behind the service.”

Veterans on campus opened up about their experiences in the service, how it changed their lives and how it eventually brought them to Elon.

Billy Crayton takes a break from driving the BioBus’ West Line Loop Nov. 2. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

Sitting atop the ambulance he would later drive in Korea, Crayton poses in Okada, Japan, in 1953 before being sent to war. [Photo courtesy of Billy Crayton]

Billy Crayton

BioBus Operator

Korean War | 1950-1953
Crayton served | 1952
Branch | Army, 15th Medical Battalion 1st Calvary

Bill Burpitt lectures during his “Strategic Management” class Nov. 1. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

Bill Burpitt

Professor of Management

Vietnam War | 1955-1975
Burpitt served | 1967-1968
Branch | Army, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade 4th Infantry Division

Robert Buchholz sits in front of Alamance Fountain before entering a facilities meeting for Physical Plant. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

Buchholz (third from left) poses in Clark Air Base in Manila, Philippines, with other members of the Navy Construction Office. [Photo courtesy of Robert Buchholz]

Robert Buchholz

Director of Physical Plant

Lebanese Civil War | 1975-1990
Buchholz served | 1983
Branch | Navy, Civil Engineering Corps

Rodney Parks speaks to his “Wilderness and Adventure Therapy” class around a bonfire at the ropes course Nov. 6. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

Parks waves in front of The Great Pyramid Cheops (also known as The Great Pyramid of Giza) in Egypt in 1991. [Photo courtesy of Rodney Parks ]

Rodney Parks

University Registrar

Gulf War | 1990-1991
Parks served | 1990-1991
Branch | Navy, Hospital Corps

Alex Luchsinger speaks to students in his “Television News Reporting” class Nov. 6. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

Luchsinger stands on top of a Iraqi police station in al-Anbar Province during a security patrol in 2005. [Photo courtesy of Alex Luchsinger]

Alex Luchsinger

Assistant Professor of Communications

War in Iraq | 2003-Present
Luchsinger served | 2005
Branch | Marine Corps, Security Battalion

Will McGowen listens during his MBA “Management and Organizational Behavior” class. [Oliver Fischer | Contributor]

While deployed in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, McGowen poses in full combat gear. [Photo courtesy of Will McGowen ]

William McGowen

MBA Student

War in Afghanistan | 2001-Present
McGowen served | 2011-2012
Branch | Army, 4th Infantry Division