Remembrance of a Soldier’s Life

At UC Santa Barbara, a group of students who served in the armed forces gather in Prof. Susan Derwin’s classroom to put their past down on paper. They come from ships, war zones, and cities large and small, studying at UCSB and remembering a soldier’s life. Eight of their stories are below. Others are collected at

A reading takes place on Thursday, May 30, at which the writers will present their stories and also take questions from the audience. UCSB McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Joining the Army
by Kyle Shipe
“That’s probably a good idea,” the judge said to me when I handed him the letter from the Army recruiter asking for leniency so that I could enlist. “Your enlistment in the military would benefit the community,” he continued. At the time, I thought that was a really cool thing to hear in a courtroom. Read more.

Lost in Catania
by Scott Rothdeutsch
Leaving Sigonella Airbase, Sicily, in my rented Fiat sub-compact I turned right on Strada Statale 192, toward Catania. As I was driving down the highway, I thought back to the events from that morning: I had showed up at 0700 to muster for what was supposed to be my flight back to the aircraft carrier USS SaratogaRead more.

by Melissa Weidner
Just after a month of being downrange in Balad, Iraq, in 2006, where I was a Combat Flight Medic, I received a wounded Marine via Medivac. I immediately noticed his praying hands, which were wrapped with a rosary and resting on his left pectoral. Read more.

My Enlistment
by Andy-Molina Ochoa
I grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in San Francisco, the Mission District, which is known for its vibrant culture and delicious restaurants. But in the evening, it becomes another place, plagued with gangs, drugs, prostitution, and robberies. Read more.

Honey Truck
by Edward Rutherford
I didn’t have much contact with those not serving in the Marine Corps while on my deployment, but one person who remains in my memory is the man from the honey truck. The honey truck was the name given to the large truck that showed up a few times a week, in order to pump the waste out of the porta-potties, since running water wasn’t available on our outpost in Afghanistan. Read more.

by Adrian Mejia
Inside the right back pocket of my coveralls, the Navy’s working uniform, I carried a small, light-green notebook. This small notebook was an essential item to have with me, especially while on deployment. My superiors expressed its importance and mandated that we carry it. Read more.

by Gio Caballero
In October 2012, I was an international college student facing deportation for failing two classes. I was 22 years old, living in my parents’ loft, aimless in academics, and frustrated in competitive Brazilian-Jiu jitsu. When the U.S. Army advertised through the Los Angeles Times that they needed Filipinos who spoke the Tagalog language, I felt like Uncle Sam was calling me personally. Read more.

Lost and Found
by  Bradley Frye
The dim headlights of my pickup strained against the darkness of the moonless night, but they did little to illuminate the dirt road ahead. The needle on the speedometer moved higher and higher, and with every bump and rattle beneath the wheels, I felt a jolt of adrenaline surge through my body. Read more.


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