Read the full story by Lisa Furlong, published in the September/October 2012 issue of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine.
Dartmouth Alumni Magazine asked alumni veterans, including Jon Vaccaro ’06,featured below, to reflect on their U.S. military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Capt. Jon Vaccaro ’06Army: ROTC-present, National Guard since June 2008Afghanistan: January to July 2009At Dartmouth: Government/math major; Phi DeltNow: Active duty, Army National Guard, Tampa, Fla; married
“Ranger school was the most valuable 88 days of my life. They use sleep deprivation and caloric deprivation to stress you out, then test your leadership abilities. Your rucksack weighs 75 to 100 pounds. I learned that as your body consumes muscle, it gives off the strong smell of ammonia. My knees have never been the same, but there’s nothing more profound than hitting rock bottom and realizing there’s more you can do. I craved French toast piled with butter and syrup. I thought about it every day.
“I really liked the Afghan culture, which is mostly open and welcoming. The terrain reminded me of New Mexico, where I grew up. We were familiar with counterinsurgency strategy and focused on winning the support of the population. I thought I might be able to learn Pashto in my free time, but I didn’t have a lot of that working 14 to 15 hours day.”
For the full listing of Dartmouth Alumni Magazine stories featuring veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, click here.