Faculty, staff and students from WKU’s Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport (KRS) have adopted a WKU soldier and his entire squadron, scheduled for deployment in January.
Command Sergeant Major John Brownell is a member of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (6-4 Cav) at Fort Knox. He is pursuing a master’s degree in athletic administration and coaching through WKU Cohort Programs. In January, he and more than 500 troops under his leadership will be deployed to Afghanistan.
Through this adoption, KRS faculty and staff plan to develop a service-learning project to get WKU students involved. They also hope to collect letters of support and care package items to ship to the 6-4 Cav Squadron throughout the year.
WKU faculty and staff from the KRS department, the Division of Extended Learning & Outreach (DELO) and WKU Elizabethtown/Radcliff/Fort Knox met the soldiers in October and witnessed a “Spur Ride,” which is a reconnaissance mission simulation designed to prepare soldiers for stressful, high-pressure conditions and create unit pride and teamwork.
“Meeting the soldiers in person made this project very personal,” said Beth Laves, interim associate vice president of DELO. “We hope that our partnership with the KRS Department will help give Mr. Brownell and his squadron a sense of connectedness to WKU and Kentucky.”
Dr. Randy Deere, an advisor in the athletic administration program, said this is an opportunity to not only support troops, but to also support a WKU student who has a tremendous amount of responsibility. “Our department is excited to partner with DELO on this project,” Dr. Deere said. “Sergeant Major John Brownell has the incredible task of leading hundreds of soldiers, and this is one way that we can show our support for each of them.”
Brownell earned his bachelor’s degree from WKU before enrolling in the online master’s program, and he plans to continue his studies as much as he can while deployed. His program is completely online and asynchronous, which means that he can work at his own pace, even from more than 7,000 miles away. He said the support he has received from WKU makes it possible.
“Dr. Deere is doing his best to help me continue my studies. I’ve never seen a university step forward to support soldiers this way,” Brownell said. “I’m just a student among students, and yet my department is showing such awesome support for me and my squadron. I’ve passed out a lot of red towels and look forward to waving them with pride in Afghanistan.”