I completed my appointment as Snedden Chair at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on May 20. Unfortunately, I haven’t posted a blog entry since March 26. Though I left the biggest state in our nation in June for the smallest, I still have many tales to tell and insights to offer from my time as a visiting professor.

I propose blogging backward. I know the idea of a blog is to write on a regular basis, present a sort of online diary or commentary. I had the best of intentions. When I started, I planned to write every day. Then every few days. Eventually, I told myself once a week would be satisfactory. Then I simply stopped posting. My energy and commitments had shifted entirely to my students. My departure from blogging corresponds to my return from an amazing and intense learning opportunity with three UAF students: an embed with Fort Wainwright soldiers training in the Mojave Desert for their impending deployment to Afghanistan.

When we returned from our embed in the Mojave Desert with the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Arctic Wolves,”  I helped JR Ancheta, Matt Anderson and Jeric Quiliza get their work published. Matt published a story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner accompanied by JR’s photos. JR also had a photo essay and story, “In the Box,” published in the local paper and a Sunday front-page multi-page feature, “The Long Goodbye”  in the Anchorage Daily News. (A big thank you to Anne Raup for her editing and support).  Jeric Quiliza had two news pieces featuring his video broadcast on News 13 in Fairbanks.

I was so proud of the students and happy for their success. It was hard work for everyone. I spent many hours in the office and a lot fewer hours sleeping. I am grateful for all the help of the news staff who embraced the students’ projects and contributions:  Amy Chausse at News 13, from former features editor Glenn Burnsilver at the News-Miner, Anne Raup at the Anchorage Daily News  and Jerry Evans, Dan Bross and Greta Johnsen at KUAC for helping me air my first radio pieces with the audio I collected. (I took a recorder instead of cameras…that will be another post 🙂

And a special thanks to Maj. David Mattox at Fort Wainwright for keeping us in the loop and paving the way for access for our coverage of the soldiers and their families.

Sadly, the last thing I did before leaving Fairbanks was attend a memorial service for three Fort Wainwright soldiers killed in Afghanistan:

“The three soldiers were on their first patrol of a yearlong deployment with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division on May 15 when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.

Spc. Bradley L. Melton, 29, of Rolla, Mo.; Pvt. Lamarol J. Tucker, 26 of Gainesville, Fla.; and Pvt. Cheizray Pressley, 21, of North Charleston, S.C., were killed. A soldier from the unit the Fairbanks-based soldiers were replacing also was killed. Two other soldiers were injured.