Tech alums and classmates Rebecca Selby and Matt Carpenter (pictured right) on the C-17 Matt had just landed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
Following a medical discharge from the U.S. Air Force, this proud alum and former officer who served in Afghanistan begins a new path.
Title: Logistics Readiness Officer
Hometown: Voorhees, N.J. -- but I am a military brat so I grew up all over.
Now resides in: Voorhees.
Degree: Bachelor of General Studies
Tell us a little about what you do, your mission: I am a Captain in the 108th Logistics Readiness Squadron of the New Jersey Air National Guard and recently got back from my deployment to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Air Force Logistics encompasses a lot, so I oversee the maintenance and operation of the vehicle fleet; supplying parts for airplanes and vehicles; issuing uniforms and office supplies; fuel for airplanes and vehicles; shipping and packing; booking flights to and from the war zone; and war plans.
Where you see yourself in five years? I came back from Afghanistan with a severe illness that I am still trying to get diagnosed and recover from. The doctors think I was exposed to something either from our burn pits or the Afghan dirt, but don't know what it is. They have seen a lot of us come home from Afghanistan with random illnesses and autoimmune disorders, but so far don't know the cause. Unfortunately this illness means the end of my Air Force career. (Ed. Note: Captain Selby thought she would recover more quickly and had planned to remain in the Air Force, “get promoted to Major and get back to Afghanistan. I want to be on a Reconstruction Team Deployment where we go into the villages and help the Afghan people. I think as a female in the military, I have a unique opportunity to help the women of Afghanistan since they are finally gaining freedoms they never had before. I also hope in the near future to find the love of my life and start a family.”) I will soon be going through the process to be medically discharged and then live on disability until I am well. I'm now on a whole new path in my life and will see what the future has in store for me.
What brought you to Tech? I came for the Professional Aviation Program (although I didn't end up staying on that track!) and the Air Force ROTC Program. Coming from New Jersey to Louisiana might have seemed crazy to some people, but my aunt and cousins were living in Louisiana so I still had family close by me. And as a military brat growing up, I was used to packing up and moving so I never had the trepidation with going to far-off places.
Why did you choose this career? My father was a C-5 pilot in the Air Force, so I had lived the Air Force life growing up. When my dad retired, I realized the military lifestyle was something special and if I wanted it in my life, I had to be an Air Force Officer too. I originally started out as a Personnel Officer, which is like Human Resources in the civilian world. I was lucky enough to get to change my career field to Logistics when I joined the NJ Air National Guard in 2009. I enjoy Logistics because we are the heart and soul of every mission the Air Force does. Planes won't fly unless they have fuel and spare parts, both of which come from Logistics.
Your best memories of Tech: My best memory is walking into my dorm room and meeting my roommate Dawn (Lewis) Cecil. The housing office assigned us together since we were both in AFROTC and she is still my best friend to this day. Matt Carpenter (pictured above), Dawn, and I still remain friends and we even all flew/drove to West Point to watch the Tech football game in 2008. The military keeps us all busy, but we still find times to meet up and reminisce about our years at Tech.
My most memorable experience in Afghanistan: While I was out on Matt's C-17 visiting him, they started loading the cargo and passengers to fly out. The first thing to come on was the remains of a hero that was going home. At Bargram, we have a formal ceremony to put inside the airplane the coffin of a hero who has been killed in Afghanistan. Sometimes after the ceremony the plane has maintenance or a weather delay and the remains have to be transferred to another plane. This was the case on that day and Matt and I, with the rest of his aircrew, had the honor to carry a hero's flag-draped coffin onboard and give him a final salute. I will never forget that moment.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s…: “You never know what life has in store for you. Who would have thought I would be halfway around the world in Afghanistan and get to meet up with a college friend!