Tales from the Battlefield

By Debra Holtz

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dramatically changed the lives of the men and women who volunteered to serve in the U.S. military. Some were inspired to join by the 9/11 attacks on the United States, and others by a lifelong dream of military service or a need to fund their educations. SMC alumni have many stories about their experiences confronting conflicts in an uncertain world. Lt. Col. Debra Muhl ’85 held the hand of a wounded helicopter pilot for five hours, consoling him over the loss of his flight crew after a crash in Iraq. “I sat there with him as he cried, wondering why he was spared,” she recalls. Steve Wackowski ’05, an Air Force Reserve officer who volunteers for more than his share of missions, says his biggest challenge is when to say he has done enough. And Army Sgt. Timothy Martin ’04 died in Iraq doing what he told his parents was “the right thing to do.”

Alumni who shared their stories with Saint Mary’s magazine provide insights into how their lives have been transformed by service and sacrifice. (Click on their photos below to read their stories.

Debra Muhl '85

Victoria Hudson MFA '08

Steve Wackowski '05

John Cole '80

Amanda Labrum '07

Mark DeLuna '87

Timothy Martin '04

James '99 & Tamara Sanborn '98

Edward Riffle '94