Students study, serve

Being a “student” isn’t always a college student’s only job description. Some may have a job back home or a job here on campus, but others work in places a little more different.

Freshman Kaitlyn Stratton and sophomores Nohheon Park, Wes Hanson and Leigh Hanson have either served in the military or are currently serving. Through their work in the military, they have a different perspective on life here at Linfield.

Stratton joined the U.S. Military after realizing that she wanted to do something and leave her town. She received all her basic training in various bases around the country. She deals with civilian affairs and is currently in reserve, but on the weekends she’ll serve at an army base near Linfield, filling out papers for incoming troops and other paperwork. After college, her team is planning to be deployed.

“Thieves of Baghdad,” the common reading book for this year, was a different book to read for Stratton than most freshmen.

“[It] was a compelling novel,” Stratton said by email. “It was easily relatable, coming from a military background and being able to understand all the procedures and tactics Bogdanos was talking about. It also made the book more personal to me, knowing that he is a fellow soldier.

Park served in the Korean military at K-55 Osan Air Base as clerk for Operations Command, where he prepared and scored drills such as the Operational Readiness Inspection.

“For males in South Korea, it is [their] duty to serve in military service,” Park said. “The shortest term in the military is two years. I served for two years.”

According to Park, most South Korean males decided to serve in the military after their freshman year of college even though they can postpone until after graduation because they know they’ll be busy after.

As a new student to Linfield, Park had to take colloquium and read the common reading book.

“The basic concept of the military is similar,” Park said. “The different thing is that the U.S. Army has a more liberal atmosphere because the U.S. Military is not fighting in their own country. [Korea is] more tensed. It is changing now. Technically we are not the stopping the war, but it is just a ceasefire.”

The war Park describes is the war between North and South Korea.

Wes, who is 32 years old, enlisted in the army because his wife, Leigh Hanson wanted to, since her family had a history of service. She wanted to continue that. Wes went along for the ride. Being married during training definitely made their experience different from any other trainees.

“They accidentally put us in the same flight in basic training,” Wes said, “so that was a really awkward experience, trying to avoid each other as much as possible, so we wouldn’t get in trouble.”

“You’re supposed to be very focused on learning to become a member of the Air Force,” Wes said. “Having her there every day was definitely a distraction. We got severely reprimanded when they found out we were married. It ended up working out.”

There were also other ways their marriage affected their time in training. Wes and Leigh ended up spending all their training at the same base, the Whiteman Air Force Base in Montana. They never moved once, something strange in the military.

Wes thought about majoring in computer science because he had been a flight control technician on a B-2 Stealth bomber, but he decided to do something completely different, something he was passionate about.

He left the military with an honorable leave after two years through an early leave program. He will be a junior at the end of this term. He is eligible to return to the military and has considered it after finding out that he only had 70 percent of his schooling paid for.

“I actually enjoyed my time in the military,” he said.

Leigh joined the military with her husband and worked as a mental health technician.

“It’s not an easy life,” Leigh said through email about the military, “but it does have its rewards. Neither of us would be in school without it.”

“I have free healthcare, not to mention the intangibles it teaches you, like discipline, respect, integrity and self-confidence.”

Linfield helps its students, and students in the military receive as much help as any other. Jeff Mackay, associate dean of students, remembers one instance of a student being called into service when the Iraq War first started. The college helped set him up to leave and for his return, making sure he could return with relative ease. That is the help provided to any student who would need some time off from school because of the military.

Gilberto Galvez/Features editor

Gilberto Galvez can be reached at

Airforce soldiers march down a road at the Whiteman Air Force Base.

Freshman Kaitlyn Stratton stands at her graduation from Battles with two of her friends. Stratton joined the army as a PVT and was promoted to a PV2 in August of this year, which is now her current rank.

Sophomore Nohheon Park (right) stands in front of his apartment before discharge with Jiyong Song.

Sophomore Wes Hanson worked on B-2 Stealth Bombers as a flight control technician during his time at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Sophomores Wes Hanson (left) and Leigh Hanson served together at Whiteman Air Force Base while married. These are their basic training photos.

Freshman Kaitlyn Stratton receives a promotion from her
Battalion Commander.

Photo courtesy of Wes Hanson

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Stratton

Photo courtesy of Nohheon Park

Photo courtesy of Wes Hanson

Photos courtesy of Wes Hanson

Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Stratton