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Meet the Military Veterans Who Made UC Their Destination for Education

UC Army ROTC Cadets Ashley Fuqua and Kadair Gleen will take part in a Nov. 12 UC ceremony to honor the nation’s veterans.

Date: 11/9/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre and ROTC
Nov. 12 Update: View Video Highlights of the UC Veterans Ceremony

Ashley Fuqua of Batavia and Kadair Gleen of Cleveland first met in the UC Army ROTC program, but they share many experiences that would be unimaginable to the average University of Cincinnati student. Both of them are sons of fathers who served in the military during the Vietnam War.

ROTC Cadets Kadair Gleen (foreground) and Ashley Fuqua
ROTC Cadets Ashley Fuqua, left, and Kadair Gleen

Both enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after graduating from high school. Both were called for active service in the most recent U.S. military missions – Fuqua served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Gleen served in Operation Enduring Freedom. And now, both are cadets in UC’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as they pursue a college education in UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). Fuqua is a UC sophomore who is majoring in biology and Gleen is a junior majoring in political science.

Their service will be among the service of veterans past and present that will be honored at UC’s annual Veterans Ceremony at 10 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, on McMicken Commons (rain location: Great Hall). The ceremony is open to both the UC community and the public.

ROTC Cadet Ashley Fuqua in Iraq
ROTC Cadet Ashley Fuqua in Iraq

During his service in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, from January through September in 2005, Fuqua was awarded the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal. The Glen Este High School graduate served with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and was a member of its Combat Logistics Battalion.

“I enlisted in the service and pretty much planned on being a lifer,” says the 25-year-old Fuqua. “From the time I was a little kid, even my parents knew that military service was in my future.”

Fuqua’s pursuit of his college degree was inspired by his service during a humanitarian mission in Kenya. After working with medical professionals on that mission, Fuqua is now pursuing a career in both medicine and in the military. Through his enrollment in UC’s Army ROTC program, he will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 2012.

Gleen, a 23-year-old political science major and graduate of Glenville High School in Cleveland, says he his calling for military service came after seeing the horror of 9-11 when he was in high school. “I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines. I wanted to be part of the change,” he says.

ROTC Cadet Kadair Gleen
ROTC Cadet Kadair Gleen

He served in Operation Enduring Freedom from September 2006 through April 2007, primarily in the Horn of Africa, and was awarded the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Meritorious Mast, and the Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon. He will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 2011. Gleen too plans to pursue a career in military service, with the goal of becoming an officer in intelligence.

Both men say the pride of being a veteran is unparalleled. “My dad served in Vietnam and he said the same thing. Freedom tastes much sweeter to those who have fought for it, and it’s true,” says Gleen.

Fuqua says his father, who’s also a Vietnam Era veteran, shared stories of getting greeted by a hostile public on his return home. “He says the way military men and women are being treated today is the way they should be treated,” Fuqua says of his father. “There’s truly a sense of patriotism that is in America today and it’s inspiring.”

He says recognition for veterans, such as the Nov. 12 ceremony at UC, is also humbling, as veterans are paid tribute for their service. A veteran representing all of those who served in the following conflicts will be recognized at the ceremony: Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Desert Storm, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and World War II. All veterans attending the ceremony will be recognized with a special commemorative coin.

The observance will feature the color guard and cadets representing UC’s Army and Air Force Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), as well as military marches by the UC Bearcat Band. As part of its UC tradition, the ceremony will close with a presentation of the colors and “Taps,” played by buglers stationed on the towers of TUC and McMicken Hall. The event will also introduce a new Salute to Service initiative to support veteran and military students entering and studying at UC.

UC is making strides in becoming the preeminent destination for veterans pursing a higher education. Support services at UC include federal approval for the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post/911 GI Bill; counseling services that address the needs of veterans; clearance for military students called to active duty to return to UC without penalties for withdrawing from school; UC Army and Air Force ROTC Programs; distance-learning options and participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

G.I. Jobs lists UC among 15 percent of the nation’s higher educational institutions that are making efforts to embrace America’s veterans as students.