Alum postpones grad school to serve in Iraq
First Lieutenant Chad M. Fox (second from left) Central Michigan University alumnus '05, and two other soldiers received the Combat Action Badge in January of 2007 after a mortar attack hit near their position.

Chad Fox was starting his freshman year when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001. Like many Americans, he was profoundly affected by the news and viewed the attacks as a call to action.

"I knew that I wanted to stay at CMU and pursue a bachelor's degree, but I also wanted to find a way to serve my country," said Fox.

He found his answer in CMU's Army Reserve Officer Training Program and began taking classes the following semester. He graduated from CMU in 2005 with a major in political science and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Michigan National Guard.

"The ROTC program is a wonderful learning experience," said Fox. "Nothing can really prepare you for war, but the ROTC program helps to lay the groundwork. I also met great people through the program. Mount Pleasant and the Central Michigan community were very supportive of us."

After completing his required Officer Basic Course that fall, Fox decided to return to CMU in January of 2006 to pursue a Master's of Public Administration degree. After one semester, he was called to duty to serve in Iraq.

"I joined the ROTC after the 9/11 attacks, so serving my country in a war zone really brought everything full circle for me. I think most of us had initial concerns upon learning we would serve a year-long tour in Iraq-mostly because of our fear of the unknown-but serving my country was a positive experience, and I felt a sense of pride at the end of each day," Fox said.

Fox was deployed through the Michigan National Guard and spent July through September training at Fort McCoy, Wisc. He and his unit arrived at LSA Anaconda in Balad, Iraq, on Oct. 1, 2006.

"The base was relatively safe, but it was mortared nearly every day for the first seven or eight months after we arrived," Fox said.

"It's common for insurgents to pay local citizens to shoot mortars at American bases, so it's worth their time to come back every day. The U.S. forces have been successful in stopping many of these attacks based on intelligence they receive about when and where some of these attacks may occur."

As Detachment Commander, Fox was responsible for supporting an 80-person Multifunctional Medical Battalion which provided command and control for level I and II medical care within the Iraqi Theater of Operations.

On a typical day, Fox would wake at 3 or 3:30 a.m. and complete physical training from 4 to 6 a.m. He spent most of his 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. work day writing reports, attending meetings and managing all of the administrative, logistic and training responsibilities for his unit.

Their daily uniform was the Army Combat Uniform unless the threat level was elevated or when they were under attack, which required them to wear helmets, body armor, gloves and eye protection.

"My ROTC instructors and officers provided me with wonderful mentoring experiences. Once you begin your service as a junior officer, you really start to draw from the knowledge and experiences that they shared with you," Fox said.

After a year of service in Iraq, Fox has returned to CMU to finish his master's degree. He plans to pursue a career in local government and hopes to one day serve as a city manager.

"The CMU ROTC program was my first introduction to the military, and it also turned out to be my first networking opportunity for the future," said Fox. "I still keep in contact with many of the friends that I made at CMU, including one ROTC peer that served in the same unit with me in Iraq. I look forward to continuing my service to both my country and my community."

Fox received The Army Commendation Medal upon completion of his service. He was recognized for "maintain(ing) accountability of all unit property and equipment valued at over $8 million dollars and ensur(ing) the safety, discipline, and accountability of over 80 soldiers."