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News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fresh from Iraq, Army Major leads ROTC

Faculty new to Pittsburg State University often comment that the pleasant weather and welcoming community make them glad they chose to work in Southeast Kansas. But those feelings couldn’t resonate stronger than for someone who has been in a hot and sandy battlefield for the past year.

This fall, Pitt State welcomed U.S. Army Major Don Stoner to serve as chairman of the university’s ROTC department. Stoner will serve at least two years in the position, an appointment made by the U.S. Army. Stoner replaces Lt. Col. Scott Craig, who retired from the military this year and now works for Crossland Construction.

A native of Pennsylvania, Stoner has been with the Army for 17 years. His first duty assignment was as an infantry officer at Fort Hood, Texas, and from there he worked his way up the ranks while transferring to recruiting offices and military bases in Oklahoma, Virginia, and most recently, Germany. He and his wife, Heather, and children Hayle and Mitchell, now 13 and 9, lived there for the past three years.

In the summer of 2007, Stoner was deployed with his company in Germany to serve a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq. He returned early this past July 4, moving immediately back to the states to take the job at PSU.

“During the year I was in Iraq, we saw a marked improvement in security,” said Stoner, whose brigade provided aviation support in and around Baghdad. “In some ways I hated to leave my team, but I was anxious to get back to my family. It was like a family reunion to come back to the states.”

When the Army gave him the choice of leading the ROTC program at Michigan State University, the University of Notre Dame, or Pittsburg State, he took no time in making the decision.

“I was in Iraq and I e-mailed my wife and asked her where she would want to go, and we agreed immediately,” he said. “We’ve always said it would be nicer to raise our kids in small town middle America. It’s a great match for us.”

Stoner has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received a master’s degree in management from Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City, and is a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Now getting to know the faculty, staff and 61 students in the ROTC program, Stoner says he’s pleased to see the excitement and dedication of his students.

“They are very mature, capable men and women who have thought out their decisions in joining,” he said. “I think the pride and desire to serve is still there. They’re going to do great.”

---Pitt State---