A Slippery Rock University professor was awarded the Purple Heart for a combat wound he received in Afghanistan at Tuesday’s Veteran’s Day service.
Army Captain Joseph Barrow, who is an assistant professor of military science at the university, suffered traumatic brain injury and facial edema in 2013 after enemy fire detonated a vehicle that was 25 meters from his position, an SRU press release read.
“The Purple Heart is a very personal award and I am glad I am able to share the experience with the SRU community, veterans and ROTC cadets,” Barrow said. “I am glad none of my fellow soldiers were injured and I was able to recover and get back to my unit.”
Senior history major and ROTC cadet David DiPasquale said the award is a reflection of Barrow’s character.
“The awards we wear aren’t for us, they’re for others,” he said. “They’re to remind the citizens, our families and our friends of how we’ve been raised and what we’ve done. We already know what we’ve done.”
DiPasquale, who has had Barrow for class, said he takes on a mentor role in the classroom, deviating from the superior role that is more common of military professionals.
“One time I was playing basketball at the gym with my friends and Barrow came right up to us and asked to play,” he said. “He’s always taking personal initiative to show he cares about his students.”
Having a professor with a Purple Heart adds value to the ROTC program, DiPasquale said, because it shows Barrow has been deployed, been injured, done something heroic and returned to service.
“Barrow sets the standard very directly,” he said. “He’s one of the best officers we have here.”
Additionally, Henry Magusiak, the director of enterprise systems applications at SRU, and Bob Bibler, the application support manager, were given the Patriot Award.
“It basically says they’ve done some things other warriors haven’t done,” said Fred Fair, the vice chair of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for Pennsylvania.
The Veterans Day service featured a speech by SRU President Cheryl Norton, a keynote address by 1986 alumna Colonel Mike Brobeck and words from 2009 alumna Captain Emma Schiller.
Norton offered thoughts to those who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces and emphasized the importance of military service to SRU.
“After all, our first president, James Morrow, was a veteran of the Civil War,” she said.
In his address, Brobeck, whose daughter is currently enrolled in SRU’s ROTC program and whose wife is a fellow alumna, spoke to the sacrifices those in the armed services make.
“If it ain’t rainin’, we ain’t trainin’, if it ain’t snowin’, we ain’t goin’,” he said.
Schiller, who also served in Afghanistan, spoke of her experience in the ROTC program and said SRU was “the only campus that felt like home.”
“ROTC quickly became my family,” she said. “We even met each other’s families on holidays.”
The service also featured the official enlistment of 11 SRU ROTC cadets via the military’s Oath of Enlistment, the placement of a wreath commemorating fallen soldiers and performances by the SRU Chamber Singers.