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Six WMU alumni deploy to Iraq together

By Capt. Corey Schultz
Jan. 8, 2008

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq--The 300th Military Police Brigade has deployed to Iraq with an unusually large number of soldiers from the same college, Western Michigan University.

What is the chance of six soldiers who graduated from the same university going to Iraq together in the same small brigade?

"It's quite a coincidence," said Lt. Col. Rod Faulk, one of the six WMU alumni. "For a brigade headquarters element of fewer than 100 soldiers, six former Broncos is a big number."

More than 5 percent of the members of the 300th MP Brigade of Inkster, Mich., graduated from WMU and were commissioned into the Army through the University's ROTC program. Even more of a coincidence, not all of the soldiers were part of the brigade when it got its deployment orders; some were called up from as far away as Washington, D.C.

The six WMU soldiers are: Faulk, commissioned as an officer in 1987; Maj. Kevin Wiley, 1988; Capt. Matt Saul, 1997; Capt. Terica Rusher, 2003; 1st Lt. Nathan Miersma, 2003; and Staff Sgt. Warren Buckler, 1973.

The Bronco Battalion alumni hold crucial jobs within the 300th. Faulk is the chief of staff, Saul the headquarters company commander, Rusher plans operations, and Miersma is the general's aide de camp. Wiley is the brigade's inspector general, and Buckler serves as a paralegal non-commissioned officer for the staff judge advocate.

The soldiers span more than 30 years of WMU ROTC history from Buckler, an alumnus of the class of 1973, to Rusher and Miersma, who graduated together in 2003.

Buckler has a unique story. Originally commissioned as an officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps, he reached the rank of major and then elected to continue serving as an enlisted paralegal rather than leaving the Army.

"Although I've been eligible for retirement for six years, I wanted to continue in the Army Reserve," said Buckler. "I enjoy it that much--both the people and the mission."

Buckler was in Ohio when he was called up to deploy. Wiley worked in Chicago. Rusher wasn't even in the Army Reserve when she got her deployment orders. She served with the National Guard in Washington, D.C.

"I don't think we've ever had six former Bronco Battalion cadets deploy in one unit at the same time," said Cris Obreiter, office associate in WMU's Department of Military Science. "I have been the 'Battalion Mom' here for about seven years, and I've seen a lot of our cadets graduate. I try to get them anything they need. Even if all we can give them is a few things in a box from home and our love and prayers, that seems to make a difference."

"It's great that we have so many alums here," Wiley said. "Go Broncos!"

The 300th MP Brigade is deployed to Camp Bucca, Iraq, as part of Task Force 134.

Writer Capt. Corey Schultz is the public affairs officer for the 300th MP Brigade and, in another coincidence, is a 1997 graduate of WMU's next-door neighbor Kalamazoo College. She can be reached at corey.schultz@us.army.mil.

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