April 30, 2013 12:00AM
A living hero visited Pittsburg State University on Thursday and Friday, April 25-26.
Though he may quibble with that description, former Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha, has certainly earned the admiration of his fellow soldiers and a grateful nation. In February, President Barack Obama expressed those thanks when he bestowed the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, on Romesha in a ceremony at the White House.
The award recognizes Romesha for his courageous actions in a deadly battle at a remote combat post in Afghanistan in 2009. Under an intense attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters, Romesha led a fierce, day-long effort that ultimately repulsed the enemy and secured the battlefield.
Pittsburg State honored Romesha for his extraordinary service at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 25, at the PSU Veterans Memorial, where a paver is being installed in his name. Romesha also spent some of his time at PSU with ROTC cadets in PSU’s Department of Military Science and was a guest at the Gorilla Battalion Spring Awards Ceremony.
The impetus for and the initial effort to bring Romesha to PSU, however, was actually his post-Army career.
When Romesha left the Army in 2011, he entered a career as a field safety specialist with an oilfield construction company in North Dakota. Romesha equates his civilian job to that of a noncommissioned officer who establishes risk mitigation policies and enforces safety standard operating procedures. He said his current profession is similar to an Army observer/controller, identifying areas the organization can improve and making on-the-spot corrections.
That story interested Pat Flynn, an assistant professor in PSU’s School of Construction who oversees its new bachelor’s of science degree in environmental and safety management.
“He sounded like just the kind of guy we would like to put with our students,” Flynn said. “Not only does he have field experience to share, but he can also talk about leadership skills and crisis management in a very personal and important way.”
Flynn worked with PSU’s Department of Military Science and others on campus to help sponsor the visit and arrange ample opportunities for students to meet with and learn from Romesha.
In addition to the ceremony at the Veterans Memorial on Thursday, the public was able to meet and hear from Romesha at a public presentation at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, in Room S102 in the Kansas Technology Center.
Romesha was accompanied on his visit to PSU by his wife, Tammy.