EMU's McAnuff gets overseas tour of duty with U.S. military as part of Joint Civilian Orientation Conference
YPSILANTI - As vice president for enrollment services, Courtney McAnuff is used to doing the recruiting, not being recruited.
The tables were turned on him recently as he was chosen to be a part of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, a program sponsored by the United States Department of Defense that selects about 40 people to get a behind-the-scenes look of at the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.
“I thought they had made a mistake,” said McAnuff of being selected. While he still isn’t sure who nominated him or how he was chosen, he said he wouldn’t have missed the opportunity for anything.
“It was a great experience. Very fascinating,” he said of the weeklong, overseas adventure.
During the trip, McAnuff traveled to Washington, D.C., Stuttgart, Germany; England; Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and a undisclosed location in Bavaria.
McAnuff and his group began their tour of duty in Washington, D.C., where they met and had a “frank conversation” with the deputy secretary of defense, McAnuff said.
“We went to a level of the Pentagon that our military guide said he had never been allowed to go to before. We also got to see the impact site from 911,” McAnuff said of one of the more emotional moments of the trip.
From the Pentagon, McAnuff and company went to Quantico for training orientation with the Marines. There, the civilians were trained in the use of light weapons.
Unlike most conferences he’s attended, there was no comfortable hotel room to go back to when the day had ended and the travel arrangements were, by design, not exactly first class.
“We rode in seats attached to pallets and loaded into a C17 cargo plane. I found a place on the floor to sleep and there was a port-a-john for a restroom,” McAnuff said. The fare for a good part of the trip was Ready to Eat Meals, REMs in military lingo. Helmets and flak jackets (bullet-proof vests) were standard issue.
While overseas, McAnuff spent time with the special forces; was on the receiving end of Howitzer rounds on a firing range; visited the hospital at Ramstein Air Force Base; spent time on a navy ship and visited with the head of the European command for the United States.
McAnuff said another emotional moment came when his group crossed paths with a group of soldiers in Ireland who were headed for Iraq.
“We took the time to shake hands with as many of them as we could,” said McAnuff.
It would have been easy to make the trip about politics, McAnuff said. McAnuff said he got the sense there were many Democrats in his group, but that didn’t make a difference.
“It wasn’t about politics. It was about the people,” McAnuff said of his travel companions and the troops they met.
“I learned what phenomenal young men and women are in the armed services. Most of them had been in Iraq, and whether or not you agree with policy, you have to feel pride in these people serving our country,” McAnuff said.
McAnuff said he spoke with many soldiers and they all had one thing in common.
“What surprised me is how positive the soldiers were and how supportive for each other they are is unbelievable,” he said.
All totaled, McAnuff traveled 27,000 miles, visited five military installations, fired several weapons, including a .50-caliber machine gun with a laser-cited rifle and a tank, and spoke with dozens of soldiers.
He also managed to recruit a soldier for EMU.
McAnuff said one of the soldiers he spoke with in the airport in Ireland was very interested in coming to EMU after he did his tour of duty.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.