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Baylor’s Legacy of Military Service Still Strong
Eddie Davis

From young graduates who enlisted in World War I to today’s servicemen and women, Baylor alumni have a deep history of serving their country. Though the military program has not been a part of the Baylor experience for more than 45 years, a Baylor education still plays a role in preparing many graduates for military service. We caught up with three alumni who have chosen the military as their life’s work.

Jeremy Bowling ’94

Lieutenant Colonel, Commander, U.S. Army

  • Commissioned an infantry officer from Auburn University’s Army ROTC in 1999.
  • Earned master’s in public policy management from Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy in 2008.
  • Commander of the 3rd Batallion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell, Ky.

An undersized but overachieving football player at Baylor, Jeremy Bowling ’94 found himself “adrift” without football in college. “I needed an organization with role models and coaches like I had at Baylor to push me to be my best, and I found that in the Army,” remembers Bowling. “The expectations that were placed on me by coaches like Fred Hubbs, Ralph Potter, Perry Key, Gene Etter, and Bill McMahan were exactly what I needed. They taught us that we were capable of anything if we were willing to do the work, to face challenges head on and not quit. That’s why I keep serving my country. Those men laid the foundation for who I am today, and I will be forever grateful.”

Bowling’s Iron Rakkasans paratroopers are the most decorated infantry battalion in the history of the U.S. Army, and serving in the unit is considered a high honor. “I have spent my entire adult life preparing for this command,” says Bowling, “and I will be for­ever humbled to call myself an Iron Rakkasan and add my name to the lineage of the great and historic unit.”

None of these accomplishments would have been possible with­out the academic, athletic, and ethical lessons I learned from the Baylor community.

During more than 23 years in uniform, Bowling has been de­ployed to Kosovo and Kuwait, served three combat tours in Iraq, and completed two special missions to Afghanistan. He has been awarded three Bronze Stars, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne, Ranger, Jumpmaster, Pathfinder, and Air Assault schools.

“None of these accomplishments would have been possible with­out the academic, athletic, and ethical lessons I learned from the Baylor community,” says Bowling. “That’s why I continue to give back to Baylor in every way possible. I’ve hosted Abshire Fellows while assigned to the Pentagon, I donate every year to the Baylor Fund, my son attends the Walkabout camp every summer, and I’ll be hosting those campers at an outreach session at Ft. Campbell this summer. I look forward to finding more ways to give back to a place that gave me so much.”

Brandon Eaves ’10

Captain and Cyberspace Operations Officer, U.S. Air Force

  • Graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2014.
  • Electronic Warfare Officer at the 609th Combined Air Force and Space Operations Center, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
  • Responsible for command and control of air, space, and electronic warfare within Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria including communications, jamming and exploitation, and information and cyberspace operations.

Although Brandon Eaves ’10 admits he was a little naïve about military service even when applying to the Air Force Academy, his family had a bit of a military background. A brother, in fact, was an Army Ranger. “Seeing him go through ROTC in college opened my eyes to what military service might look like,” he remembers, “and, in a practical sense, going to the Academy equated to a world-class education with the guarantee of a pretty cool job after graduation.” The reasons Eaves continues to serve are much more important. “I quickly learned that you’re only as fast as the slowest person on your team, and the sense of teamwork and collective responsibility that permeates the military makes serving very satisfying.”

Eaves says that his years as a Baylor student and athlete in football and soccer helped him prepare for military service in three notable ways. “A busy Baylor student quickly finds that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. The time and task management processes I learned at Baylor have served me well in the Air Force,” he says. “Additionally, military operations and athletics are very much alike. Your team has a common goal, you train and practice to improve as an individual and a team, you study your opponent as you plan the engagement, and you meet that opponent on a neutral field. While the stakes are obviously different, the concepts are the same. Finally, the personal and deliberate investment that every Baylor faculty and staff mem­ber puts into each student still amazes me. Their leadership by example and investment in my future was key in my pursuit of successful military service.”

The personal and deliberate investment that every Baylor faculty and staff mem­ber puts into each student still amazes me. Their leadership by example and investment in my future was key in my pursuit of successful military service.

While at Baylor, Eaves also was chosen as an Abshire Fellow and remembers an exercise while on the group’s trip to Washing­ton. “We were asked to etch a name from the Vietnam Memorial and then think of that person’s family and friends, consider that person’s impact on the lives of others, and try to contemplate what their life might have been like,” he remembers. “This extremely thought-provoking experience was just one example of how that trip exposed me to public service. It definitely made me, as an 18-year-old, think about what successful service might look like.”

He has learned that the scope of service is broad and that the military is involved in many things other than warfare, pointing out that members are regularly called upon for humanitarian as­sistance and disaster recovery operations throughout the world. “A previous unit I served in was intimately involved with the Thai soccer team cave rescue earlier this year, and to see that event unfold, knowing that fellow service members were on the ground providing aid and assistance, was a great and proud feeling.”

Emma Lochmaier ’13

2nd Lt., U.S. Air Force

  • Graduated from U.S. Air Force Academy in 2017.
  • Working toward master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Florida.
  • USAF 61C, chemist, researching nuclear forensics at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

Emma Lochmaier ’13 began considering attending a service acad­emy in hopes of continuing her swimming career in college, and after touring the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Acad­emy, she chose the Air Force.

“I was surprised how much I fell in love with both academies,” says Lochmaier. “Both offered a unique opportunity for me to get a great education, to continue my swimming career, and to live for something beyond myself. The road has not always been easy, but I am confident I made the right choice.” Her brother, Peter ’17, also chose the Air Force Academy path and was receiving his official public acceptance during Baylor’s Awards Day, the same day his sister was being commissioned an officer.

Everyone will have to step up as a leader at some point, whether it’s in their work, at school, or in their personal life. Baylor gave me an op­portunity to begin understanding my leadership style early on.

A high school experience that does not include military in­struction was not a factor in Lochmaier’s future. “The military needs a wide variety of career professionals to function efficiently and effectively,” she says. “Each branch requires doctors, counsel­ors, scientists, and many more specialized jobs. I love that I can do something I love, namely chemistry, while still serving my country.”

Lochmaier says it wasn’t just chemistry and academics that prepared her for a life of military service. “At Baylor, we spent a lot of time outside the classroom developing leadership,” she remembers. “That’s extremely rare to find in a high school, but it’s one of the most applicable things a person can learn. Everyone will have to step up as a leader at some point, whether it’s in their work, at school, or in their personal life. Baylor gave me an op­portunity to begin understanding my leadership style early on.”

Baylor School operated as a military academy and accredited school of the United States War Department from the fall of 1917 through the spring of 1971. The following timeline summarizes a few points of interest about the school’s military history:

+ When Baylor officially became a military academy in Septem­ber of 1917, the new rural and sprawling campus was an ideal location to meet the requirements of a military academy.

+ In 1923, there was a movement to have a 15-foot illuminated cross erected on the school tower in memory of WWI heroes. The idea became more ambitious with a plan to honor them by building the original Alumni Chapel, dedicated in 1927.

+ With the escalation of World War II, Baylor intensified the mil­itary program, adding government-required wartime scholastic courses and adding an obstacle course for physical training.

+ Baylor also organized a Victory Corps, a program started in 1942 to train high school students in skills relevant to the war effort.

+ More than a thousand Baylor graduates joined the armed forces during World War II, 39 of whom died in combat. Bay­lor dedicated Memorial Gymnasium in 1949, installing a gold star in the floor of the lobby in their memory.

+ Baylor’s board decided to discontinue the military program at the end of the school year in 1971.

+ Baylor seeks to honor alums, faculty, staff and all others who have served in the military each year on or near Veterans Day. Below is a video of the 2018 Veterans Day observance in the Baylor chapel:

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