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Inspiring thoughts from UW Facilities veterans

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London plane trees

London plane trees along Memorial Way.

Patriotism. Comradery. Strength. Just some of the words that come to mind when we consider the meaning of Veterans Day. The 58 stately London plane sycamore trees that line Memorial Way to the flagpole were planted 100 years ago to honor UW students and faculty who died in World War I. Additional installations across campus honor those who served in other conflicts, and the University regularly honors distinguished alumni veterans.

 

Around 25 percent of UW Facilities staff are veterans, with expertise learned in the military now put to use for the University every day.  We invited our Facilities staff to share how their military experiences helped prepare them for post-service life and what Veterans Day means to them. Here are the reflections of just a few of the more than 260 veterans working in Facilities who chose to be a part of this article. Their service, and that of all veterans, is so appreciated.

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Alan Horne

Alan Horne, at right, receiving the Navy Achievement Medal.

Alan Horne, Power Plant Mechanic Lead

Military service: I was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii onboard the U.S.S. Goldsborough DDG-20. I was a Boiler Technician. At the rank of E-5, Second Class Petty Officer. I served from August 1979 to August 1985.

“Veterans Day is a day to reflect upon my past military experience. A day to be proud that I served my country. It’s also a day to think of the men and women currently serving in an active duty status. The thing that gets me the most are the sacrifices our active and prior military members make and have made. My son, Andrew, is a Marine Corps veteran. He comes over to my house every Veterans Day to raise the American flag in the morning. He places his boot at the base of the pole to honor our fallen soldiers.

The UW Power Plant is a steam-producing plant, just like the main propulsion plant of the ship I was stationed on. The fundamentals are the same. Shift operators relieve the watch/shift at 15 minutes before the hour, just like we did in the Navy. In the Navy we watched out for our shipmates and to some extent, the same happens here. We even have a sound powered phone system here in the plant similar to the phone system used in the engineering spaces on the destroyer I was stationed on.

I learned many life traits in the Navy. I was enlisted at the age of 18 and was impressionable. Hence, a great time to learn right from wrong. I was given the responsibility of Fireroom Supervisor at the age of 20. I learned to sink or swim very quickly. At times, military life didn’t seem fair. There could not have been a better teacher to prepare me for the rest of my life. I received a Navy Achievement Medal and Honorable Discharge for my service.”

George Donegan, Assistant Director, Business Mobility, Transportation Services

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George Donegan

George Donegan says his military experience helped him adapt to his role in Facilities’ Transportation Services.

Military service: I served in the US Navy on active duty onboard the USS Mount Hood (AE 29) from May 1996 to August 1999. I was in the Naval Reserve from September 1999 to March 2005 working for Military Sealift Command and CART (Cargo Afloat Rig Team) On USNS Kilauea (T-AE 26). I was a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) and ended my career as a Lieutenant.

“Veterans Day reminds me of all the people that came before me and held up the values of this nation. It reminds of the all the hard working people I got to know and work with who came from all walks of life. My father, who passed away earlier in my life, who was in the US Navy, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. When I visit, I’m reminded of the many who have made sacrifices for this great nation.

Working at UW is similar to working in the military. In all of my work experiences the success of any business endeavor has been its people. My passion is being able to motivate people to do their best, day in and day out. This means getting to know them and helping them remove barriers from their daily activities. It is working alongside them, explaining the vision and living up to the core values of the business. The key to blending both the people and the vision is a solid process to get the job done and achieve the desired goals.”

John Balzarini, Program Coordinator, Fleet Services

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John Balzarini

John Balzarini is pictured at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

Military service: I was enlisted as a fuel truck driver from 1981-1984. I served in Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska and at Fort Riley, Kansas. I was in a combat engineer battalion for the 1st Infantry Division.

“My grandfather was a combat engineer in WW II. His big start of the war was on Utah beach during the Normandy invasion. My dad was an infantry soldier in Vietnam. Veterans Day always means so much to me because of the good people who served before me. I remember those who never came back and the ones who partially came back and have trouble putting the war behind them.

My similarities here at work are many. I work for Fleet Services maintaining the UCARs on campus. I was first stationed in a motor pool in Alaska and learned many things in the motor pool. Working and maintaining a vast assortment of combat vehicles directly relate to my work here at Fleet.

I guess the one thing people should know is that joining the military doesn’t mean you are going to war and get shot at. There are many job titles for areas that you can use in everyday life. Training from everything like dentistry to earthmoving equipment or technical uses like flying drones used for rescue missions. The military is very good for young motivated people to learn life skills such as being on time, reliability, dependability, and survivability in the real world. You can also get money from the government to go to college when you are discharged.”

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John Coronado

John Coronado served from 1980-1984, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Great Falls, Montana.

 John Scott Coronado, Drafting Technician 3

Military service: I served from 1980-1984, all of that time was at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

“I was not involved in any combat duty and my duties and service don’t stand out as anything special, just an average serviceman. I was a protective coating specialist (painter) and worked in some unique areas. I painted various surfaces at the 200 missile launch facilities throughout Montana, mainly the missile blow hatch and radar banjos. I painted various surfaces deep below ground at the missile launch control facilities, mainly the outside of the capsule that housed the officers charged with launching the missiles, and the (four) huge shock absorbers attached to the capsule that were in place to absorb a nuclear explosion above ground. I was also on the crew that painted the striping on the base runway.

Many of my family members have served, some have died, and I wanted to express my patriotic feeling. To me, Veterans Day is the acknowledgement and recognition of people whose military service has supported this American experiment of democracy and freedom.”

 

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Joshua Barker

Joshua Barker compares his navy experiences to working with his tight-knit group at the UW.

 Joshua Barker, Parking Specialist, Transportation Services 

Military service: I served in the US Navy from 2005-2010, as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate. Stationed in Virginia Beach, VA with VFC-12 at NAS Oceana. I left as an AE3 (Aviation Electrician’s Mate Petty Officer Third Class).

“Veterans Day is largely about reaching out to other vets or current service members in my life. And just checking in with them. I also take it as a day when people will tend to thank me for my service, though like when I was just fresh out of boot camp, I take this more as people thanking others who served, with myself as a representative of others.

My current position in Facilities is similar to my time in the navy, because I work in a pretty tight-knit group that relies on and trusts each other with work and we support each other.”

 

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Lou Cariello

In 1988, Lou Cariello’s navy career was beginning to take off.

 Lou Cariello, Vice President, UW Facilities

Military service: I served with the U.S. Navy Seabees in the Civil Engineer Corps for 31 years. I have been stationed on the West Coast (California), East Coast (New York, D.C., Norfolk & Virginia Beach), Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Midwest (Indiana), and overseas (Guam, Hawaii and Italy) and deployed to Japan, Puerto Rico, Spain, Iraq, Afghanistan and a few other places. I retired as a Rear Admiral.

“Veterans Day is a day to reflect on service – my father’s, my father-in-law’s, my uncle’s, my cousin’s, my brothers-in-law’s, my friends and my own. It’s a day to be thankful for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and the ideals our country was founded on (freedom, liberty and justice for all). It is a time to honor and be thankful for the service of those who still wear the uniform and those who served our country with dignity throughout our history.

My military career was about serving my country – protecting the ideal of freedom for all nations and people, defending the inalienable rights and providing hope to good, honest people in parts of the world where there is suffering from tyranny and oppression, and improving relationships between nations. My work at UW is about serving our community and society in support of the greater good. Over the years in my military career and in my continuing service with UW, I am privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to making a positive difference for others.”

 

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Rodney Worden

After 31 years in the navy, Rod Worden joined Facilities, who says its mission mirrors that of the military.

 Rod Worden, Director, Maintenance & Construction

Military service: I served in the Navy from 1986 to 2017, becoming a Captain doing construction and facility maintenance in the Seabees and Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Highlight positions included Chief Staff Officer for a Seabee regiment in Iraq and as the Commanding Officer of the Navy Facilities Engineering Command for the Mid-West Region. I served in many locations and deployed to a host of countries around the globe. 

“Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the nation we serve, those we have lost and to appreciate the positive energy that so many in the community provide to service members.

Our Facilities team is here to enable the University to do great things for our community and the world. Military members are humble and tend to sidestep public praise, but we deeply appreciate comments from friends and the community recognizing our efforts. Thank you for supporting us as we support you.”

 

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Ron Frees

Ron Frees, pictured here in 1975, also worked with steam power in the navy. 

Ron Frees, Central Power Plant Manager

Military service: I served in the US Navy from March 1975 until January 1986. (Aircraft Carrier) USS Midway CV-41, March 1975 to March 1977; Boiler Technician Fireman, Yokosuka Japan; (Destroyer) USS Mc Kean DD-784, March 1977 to March 1979, Boiler Technician 3rd Class, Seattle Washington; Naval Air Station Cubi Point Republic Of The Philippines, Naval Air Station Security, March 1979 to April 1982, Boiler Technician 1st Class; Fleet Training Command San Diego California, April 1982 to January 1986, Training Instructor, Boiler Technician/ Machinist Mate Advanced Maintenance.

“Veterans Day to me is every day. I am proud to have served my country and proud of all others that have served, which includes my grandfather, my father, my brother and many cousins and uncles. As I grow older I am seeing that our vets are getting far more recognition then they did years ago. I hope it continues, they all deserve it. Here at the Power Plant we have 11 vets altogether and not a day goes by that we don’t mention something about the military and that is why Veterans Day is every day with me.

While in the US Navy on board ship, my job was to make steam to move the ship through the water. Here at the Power Plant my job is to oversee the operations and maintenance of the plant and make steam with our 5 boilers to heat the campus and drive our turbine. You can say that I have been making steam most of my life, ten years in the US Navy and going on 34 years here at the UW.”

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Gutzwiler

Ryan Gutzwiler, photographed at Saddam Hussein’s ‘spider hole’ a few days after Hussein’s capture in December, 2003.

 Ryan Gutzwiler, Preventative Maintenance & Asset Manager

Military service: I enlisted in the US Army Reserve (1996-1998), Private First Class; Army ROTC (1998-2002); Cadet; Active Duty US Army (2002-2007), 14th Engineer Battalion, Fort Lewis, WA, Capitan; Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2004)-Platoon Leader, Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005-2006)-Battalion Maintenance Officer.

“While I think about all my brothers and sisters that I served with every day, Veterans Day is a day that I think about and honor all the brave veterans who came before and after me. For those who came before me, I thank them for their incredible sacrifices, for without them I wouldn’t have had the life that I’ve had, nor would I have ever had the chance to do my part for my country. For those who came after me, I thank them for their continued sacrifices, for without them I wouldn’t be able to continue to have the life that I live, in the freest society in the world.

Veterans don’t want your pity, we all chose to serve our country, and we did so with honor and knowing that we would have to make sacrifices that others may not be able or willing to make. We do appreciate your respect, regardless about how you may feel about particular wars, or government or political parties, each and every one of us is an individual not really much different than you, so respect us for who we are. We are a very talented pool of people that care very deeply for more than ourselves; who wanted to make the world a safer place, and who still want to make the smaller world around us a better place.”

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Scott Carlson

Scott Carlson’s service included time in the Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

 Scott Carlson, Project Manager, Project Delivery Group

Military service: I served four years active duty in the Marine Corps as a combat correspondent and close-quarters combat instructor, one year in the Coast Guard Reserve as a gunner, and about four years in the Army/National Guard as an infantryman. I deployed with the Army to Baghdad for a year.

“When Veterans Day comes, I am often looking around to thank the older, saltier veterans for their service to our country. I feel it’s a special day that should be reserved for the World War II vets or those who fought on the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. I want to buy a beer for the Vietnam War vets. It’s just not a day I assign to myself or my generation, as strange as that sounds. Every year, I speak at my kid’s school and have for the last five years. It is a special day, but a day for someone else.

The one distinction I draw between my time in the military and my job with UW Facilities would be the concept of teamwork. That is so key to what we do and how we get our projects done. Here at UWF, we have the common goal of making and keeping this campus great. I have yet to meet someone that does not see that as the reason they show up to work every day. This, coupled with the fact that I am a UW alumnus (2012), is the driver that makes me love my job and keeps me coming back to work.

The one thing I think people should know about military life, my experience anyway, is that it really is a great stepping stone to becoming a better human being. This decision honestly saved me and ultimately put me through college and on the path to responsible adulthood. I am so thankful for all the traveling, hardships and life lessons I learned while enlisted.”

More online resources for our veteran community include education benefits and a UW-Seattle campus Facebook group. Visit the UW Office of Student Veteran Life here.