Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 01:11
Before Kyle Hatch, an Oregon State University senior, began his martial arts career in the fifth grade, military service had not crossed his mind. Meeting with other parents and adults in his program, Hatch discovered many of them were prior service and began to consider setting his sights on opportunities in the military.
Hatch attended high school in Myrtle Point, Ore., a small town and logging community of about 2,700 people. He had one grandfather who served in the Navy and the other in the Army, but, according to Hatch, the choice to serve was left to him.
“My family was very encouraging, but at the same time they wanted me to make my own decisions,” Hatch said.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Hatch’s determination to serve intensified. Hatch joined the Navy after high school, becoming a corpsman with the Third Battalion, First Marines of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Hatch’s preparation prior to deployment included laborious training. Hatch began in Field Medical Service School, then followed with Operational Emergency Medical Systems before attachment to Third Battallion, First Marines.
“Becoming a medic was pretty rigorous,” Hatch said. “I got a lot of experience with live tissue.”
After training, Hatch’s battalion went on a Marine Expeditionary Unit and he served as a corpsman in Iraq, spending part of his time in Fallujah. Initially, Hatch flew to Iraq where he was in Hit and Haditha. In his next deployment he was attached to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, taking Navy ships to Iraq.
“I felt a sense of service and wanted to get into medicine,” Hatch said. “I felt I would be best suited in the military.”
Kyle’s experience in the military satisfied his love for problem solving. Through his tours he helped many people among his fellow Marines and in the towns where he was stationed.
“Many of the people knew me by name and appreciated the work I did,” Hatch said. “The people in the towns in which I served took great care of me and knew I would be able to treat many types of injuries.”
Hatch mentioned the demanding situations he encountered while serving as a corpsman.
“Some of the Marines I treated I had to put on a bird without thinking,” Hatch said. “I never heard about where they went or how they were doing, but I couldn’t stop and think about it. When I returned home and was met by these Marines and their families, I realized the magnitude of what I had done to help them in Iraq. Having those experiences and people who stood behind me during them was very humbling.”
Deployments showed him a vastly different perspective from what is portrayed by the media. According to Hatch, while violence persists in these wars, there is more to the story.
“When you look to CNN or agencies or reporters out there, it seems that they try to sell the things that look horrible, the mass destruction or the tear-jerker segments, but that’s not all that’s going on,” Hatch said. “A lot of times people are rendering medical attention or providing food, water or security to help get businesses and schools back up because of insurgency control.”
Kyle, now in his final undergraduate year studying biology, hoping to pursue a master’s in public health, and either apply to medical school or attend school to become a physician’s assistant.
“Kyle is very proud to be a veteran, while also very open to new ideas, concepts, and paradigms outside of the status quo,” said Dawn Marie Alapisco, OSU applied anthropology student. “He made a very large impression as a quiet, yet authoritative, voice of reason during the class I met him in.”
Outside of his coursework, Hatch serves as president of Omega Delta Sigma and as treasurer for the Veterans and Family Student Association (VFSA). Among his projects for the VFSA, Hatch has secured more funds for greater veteran outreach on campus and for veterans to receive honor cords at commencement.
“Oregon State is the model that others use when they install programs for veterans at their universities,” Hatch said. “In the time we’ve been here we’ve grown significantly, and over the last four years we have been classified as a veteran-friendly school.”
Hatch says strengthening the veteran’s community has been very constructive for him and others, affording them opportunities to talk with others about their varied military experiences.
“A lot of veterans here have put different spins on my own time in the service,” Hatch said. “I like being able to talk with people about their different units and to assist as a student leader, shaping the standards we now have.”
Jack Lammers, news editor