The Blue Guidon The Newsletter of Andover and the Military
Our Military Today: A New Generation Speaks To Serve—and To Be Tested By Capt. Taylor Perkins, USAF, ’12
I have found in my short career that personnel recovery is an oft unknown mission across the services. While every component is required to provide their own personnel recovery forces down range, every component fills this need differently. For the Air Force, this takes the form of the Guardian Angel Weapon system—a combination of enlisted Pararescuemen and Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) specialists, led by Combat Rescue Officers (CROs). The Guardian Angel Weapon system fields teams of operators who are rescue and recovery specialists trained in advanced insertion and extraction methods as well as rescuing personnel from almost any situation. After graduating from the Air Force Academy in summer 2016, I commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and began the two-year training pipeline to become a CRO. The pipeline consisted of 10 different schools and trained me in open- and closed-circuit diving; static line and free fall parachuting; basic and advanced survival techniques; high angle/mountain, confined space, and collapsed structure rescue; small unit tactics; and weapons proficiency.
Upon graduating the pipeline, I earned the coveted maroon beret and returned to my unit to begin my team commander upgrade, which is an additional six months of training to prepare me to lead a pararescue team in personnel recovery operations in combat. Since then, I have deployed to the Bahamas to conduct civil search and rescue missions after Hurricane Dorian and to Afghanistan to conduct personnel recovery operations in the United States Central Command Area of Responsibility. On my deployment to Afghanistan I had time to think about why I joined, and where that path was leading me. I joined to serve, as I imagine most did. I saw service as an opportunity to be tested, to deploy and fight, and to be weighed and measured. Simply put, I desired to go to war, to be in the thick of it, and to truly know combat. I never saw this urge as morbid but understood it as a desire to determine my worth in the ultimate crucible. I saw combat as a chance to understand how I would act and react—which is to say I wanted to find out what I was made of. Perhaps it is A New Generation Speaks continued on page 2
U.S Air Force Capt. Taylor Perkins ’12 (fourth from left) stands with his team on the flight line at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, prior to a training jump operation.
A New Generation Speaks continued from page 1
naïve of me to wish for such a thing, as I am sure there are many out there who can assure me it is. However, I think it is a feeling that many of those who volunteer to go down range can relate to, consciously or not. I know it is a sentiment common in my career field. To train for so long and so hard only to not be utilized is like keeping a Ferrari parked in the garage. For those who have read Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire (I recommend you do if you haven’t) you will know this is the ideal mindset of the warrior—the want and need to be challenged, to feel we have something to prove, and to be dissatisfied with our accomplishments until we do. This, then, is where I found myself on my most recent deployment.
With the U.S. involvement in the Middle East waning, what is left is not war, but transition. Our military efforts now consist of constant security actions, training and developing their security members, and brokering deals between factions of a country. This is not quite the environment I had envisioned as a place to test my mettle. And so, I have been left with the sinking feeling that through bad luck and poor timing, I have missed my opportunity to be weighed and measured. Now I am relegated to hearing the stories of those who came before me, with no actions to speak of to prove my own merits. Yet what I also came to realize on this deployment was that the perfect mission—with the right blend of complexity, danger,
ambiguity, and action that elicits this test— is unattainable. This road is never ending, and even if I had tasted combat, this would only lead to seeking more of the same, or the even bigger, even badder mission. What I learned, cliché as it might be, is that the feeling I am searching for is not in the mission, or the action, or the profile of the event. The feeling I am searching for is within the men I served alongside. The feeling of accomplishment, of self-worth, is not procured in the accomplishment of the task, but in sharing it amongst the team. When the dust settles and the fatigue has set in and you look back on the crucible, it is those who are there with you in the early morning hours who give it definition and meaning.
Ready and Willing to Answer the Nation’s Call By Ensign Aniruhd “Ani” Murali, USN, ’16
In the midst of a global pandemic and tumultuous domestic politics, the world around us seems more uncertain than perhaps ever before. During my four years traversing the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy, the challenges and perceptions of the “outside” world never truly impacted me. My classmates and I imbibed the history of Midway and Iwo Jima, diligently studied the philosophy of Kant and Epictetus, and honed the skills required to successfully lead sailors and Marines into combat. While many of us held diverse, even conflicting, views on myriad topics— from politics to religion—a core ethos brought us together despite our differences: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will defend the Constitution of the United States against all Ensign Ani enemies, Murali walking foreign toward the and stage at his U.S. Naval Academy graduation ceremony 2
domestic...” Regardless of race, creed, socioeconomic status, or religion, my 1,023 fellow classmates and I all swore to uphold this oath. This devotion to service fundamentally derives from a belief that the Constitution is a sacred set of ideals worth defending and protecting, irrespective of political administration. In brief respite from the rigors of military life, I currently find myself in Cambridge, Mass., pursuing a graduate degree at MIT. My short time here on the banks of the Charles has revealed some surprising truths regarding both the perception and reality of military service in a country experiencing an ever-growing civil-military divide. To those who pass by me as I walk to class, there is no outward indication of my identity as a military officer. Every morning I glance at the meticulously creased white and khaki uniforms hanging in the closet and don my new uniform of a sweatshirt and jeans. On the surface I appear no different than any other graduate student, yet after finding out I serve in the military, I am often met with a slew of puzzled looks and probing questions from my peers. Among the most common are: “You have to serve after you graduate? Don’t you have a choice?” Yes, I do have to serve. However, more importantly, I want to serve. In many ways, the perception of the military among my civilian counterparts is understandable. With an all-volunteer force of just 1.2 million, serving in the military— or even knowing someone who serves—is a rarity among the American population.
As such, I see my brief departure from traditional military life as an opportunity to bridge this gap. Much of what Americans know about the military derives from its representation in the media rather than personal experience. Recent events such as Lafayette Square and the use of National Guard soldiers for riot control have only led to increased concerns about the military’s role as a fundamentally apolitical institution. With these challenges in mind, the onus is on those of us within the military to assure American citizens that our institution remains a beacon of political neutrality—even in the face of divisive domestic politics. The nature of military service in 2020 is vastly different than what it was even at the turn of the century, yet the guiding principles for those who volunteer to serve remain steadfast. Though my fellow officers and I serve at the pleasure of the Commander in Chief, we more importantly strive to uphold the sacred ideals upon which this democracy is built. The belief that the Constitution is a set of ideals worth defending has led countless generations of Andover alumni to pursue a “non sibi ” life of service to country and will undoubtedly lead future generations to follow in their path. I am reminded of this as I look through the Andover and the Military alumni register each year and see the list expanding to include new classes. To those who may doubt the current generation’s commitment to serve, know that we stand ready to assume the watch and answer the nation’s call.
McCaffrey ’60 and Balling ’86 Receive Andover Alumni Award of Distinction By George Rider ’51, P’86, GP’22
Cmdr. Sali Gear, USN, was the guest speaker at AATM’s 11th annual Veterans Day Program, held via Zoom on November 11. Gear was one of the first women selected to go through the full combat/aircraft carrier–qualified syllabus for Naval aviators. Her aviation tours included instructing, VIP and high-value cargo movement, and serving as a Strike Plans officer on a ship. Non-flying tours were with Naval Special Warfare Command, Joint Forces Command/NATO, and Fleet Forces Atlantic Command.
BARRY MCCAFFERY: CHRISTINE BALLING: A 1964 West Point Ingenuity, leadership, ANDOVER ALUMNI graduate, McCaffrey daring, and hard work was commissioned into combine to make the infantry and served Balling’s story bold, AWARD OF DISTINCTION in the U.S. Army for 32 inspiring, and heartyears. His combat tours warming—non sibi at included 1965 action in its best! After earning a the Dominican Republic with the BA in English literature at Barnard 82nd Airborne. McCaffrey served as College, Balling worked on Wall advisor to the Army of the Republic Street and in Hollywood and of Viet Nam from 1966 to 1967 and Silicon Valley. In 2006, at her 20th Company Command with the 1st Andover reunion, she became Cavalry Division from 1968 to1969. reacquainted with classmate Juan He was awarded two Distinguished Mario Laserna, a Colombian whom Service Crosses, two Silver Stars, she later married. Three years later and three Purple Hearts. she founded Colombian-based In Operation Desert Storm, Fundación ECCO to promote McCaffrey commanded the 24th democracy and youth leadership in Infantry Division (mechanized) as areas of conflict. they drove 370 km into Iraq during Balling executed projects in the “Left Hook” attack. He became areas where FARC (Revolutionary known for his speed and boldness. Armed Forces of Columbia) At the time of his retirement, insurgency operated, working with McCaffrey was the youngest fourthe Colombian army, air force, star general and the most highly and national police. She received decorated serving general. grants from USAID, U.S. Special McCaffrey went on to serve in Operations Command South, and President Clinton’s Cabinet as the the International Organization for Director of the White House Office Migration and Spirit of America. of National Drug Control Policy Balling has served as a subject and on the President’s National matter expert to the U.S. Special Security Council for drug-related Operations commander and 2020
AATM Salutes Veterans Day Speaker Gear ’79
Congratulations to two working contributors to Andover and the Military— Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, U.S. Army (Ret.) and Christine Balling, AATM Executive Committee member—for being selected for the 2020 Andover Alumni Award of Distinction, presented October 26. The award recognizes and honors alumni of Phillips Academy and Abbot Academy who have served with distinction and exhibited leadership in their fields of endeavor.
Andover Alumni Award of Distinction continued on page 4
Andover Alumni Award of Distinction continued from page 3
CURRENTLY SERVING IN THE ACTIVE AND RESERVE FORCES Mackenzie Lucas ’20
Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, U.S. Army, ’60
Christine Balling ’86
issues. Upon leaving government service, he joined West Point as the Bradley Distinguished Professor of International Security Studies (2001–2005) and an adjunct professor of International Security Studies (2006–2010). He previously served as an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point, teaching American government and comparative politics. McCaffrey was inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2007, honored as a Distinguished Graduate of West Point in 2010, and was selected for the Doughboy Award in 2015, the highest honor the chief of infantry can bestow. Currently, McCaffrey is president of his own consulting firm based in Seattle. He also serves as a national security analyst for NBC News. McCaffrey and his wife, Jill Ann, have three children. Their son, Col. Sean McCaffrey, retired from the U.S. Army after a career as an infantry officer.
partnered with the U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams downrange in Columbia. In 2015, she was pinned by the Colombian Minister of Defense with the Colombian Armed Forces’ “Medal of Distinguished Service.” Upon her return to Washington, D.C., she earned an executive MA in national security affairs at the Institute of World Politics. In 2016 and 2017, Balling organized and led two solo expeditions to Iraqi Kurdistan to deliver humanitarian aid and embed with female Yazidi Peshmerga soldiers who survived the 2014 genocide by ISIS. From 2015 to 2020, Balling was the senior fellow for Latin American Affairs at American Foreign Policy Council. In 2019, she testified as an expert witness at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on U.S.-Colombian relations. Balling currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá and is the director of Federal Programs for RStor, Inc. and its subsidiary, Sylabs, Inc.
Joseph Kacergis ’19 Jack O’Neil ’19 Neil Thorley ’19 Nicholas Isenhower ’18 Joseph Simourian ’18 Larson Tolo ’18 David Tsai ’18 Annette Bell ’16 Benjamin Bolduc ’16 AnnaMaria Dear ’16 Anirudh Murali ’16 Nicholas Forti ’15 Eden Livingston ’15 Renee LaMarche ’14 Thomas Mullen ’14 Alexandra Bell ’13 William O’Donnell ’13 Taylor Perkins ’12 Christopher Kent ’11 Lyra Silverwolf ’11 Adrian Lehnen ’10 Ansley White ’10 Jake Bean ’08 Hanson Causbie ’08 Jess Choi ’08 Lauren Johnson ’07 Helal Syed ’07 Brendan de Brun ’06 Connor Flynn ’06 Jenn Bales ’04 Livy Coe ’04
A Belated Farewell to Capt. Angus Deming ’44 Andover and the Military was saddened to learn of the passing of Capt. Angus Deming on February 12, 2020. Two days after the D-Day landings in France on June 6, 1944, Deming graduated from Andover and immediately went on active duty in the Navy. At the end of his two-year hitch during WWII, Deming attended Yale, graduating in 1948 with a BA degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. In 1950, Deming was deployed to Korea as an infantry officer in the 1st Marine Division and served as a platoon leader in the 5th Marine Regiment. He was awarded the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry” in his rifle company’s assault on a strongly defended enemy position in June 1951. Deming returned to civilian life in 1952 and began a distinguished career as a journalist with the Wall Street Journal and UPI, followed by 40 years with Newsweek magazine, retiring in 2000. He spoke at AATM’s Veterans Day program in 2017.
Steve Draheim ’04 Matt Fram ’04 Nick Ksiazek ’03 Cat Reppert ’02 Eric Chase ’01 Gil Barndollar ’00 Jarreau Jones ’00 Matthew Sullivan ’00 Hunter Washburn ’00 Grancis Santana ’99 Ali Ghaffari ’98 Luis Gonzalez ’97 Michelle Kalas ’97 Jesse Ehrenfeld ’96 Rush Taylor ’96 Kenny Weiner ’96 Randy Allen ’95 Rebecca Calder ‘94 Matthew Macarah ’93 Ryan Shann ’93 Craig Der Ananian ’91 Kenneth Jambor ’91 Eric Hawn ’89 Graeme Henderson ’83, P’14
THE BLUE GUIDON
The Newsletter of Andover and the Military Vol. 9, No. 1 Published biannually by the Office of Academy Resources, Phillips Academy
Robert Tuller ’82, P’22, ’23
George Rider ’51, P’86, GP’22
David Chase, Faculty Emeritus
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE James Donnelly ’82, Chair Christine Balling ’86 Tom Beaton ’73 Livy Coe ’04 Laurie Coffey ’95 Karl Novick ’07
Kazimierz Kotlow ’83 Robert Patrick ’88 George Rider ’51, P’86, GP’22 Rush Taylor ’96 Robert Tuller ’82, P’22, ’23 Don Way ’63 Kenny Weiner ’96
Douglas Creedon ’79
This list, based on data we receive from alumni, may be incomplete. If you know of someone who should be added, please email Mary Corcoran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fall 2020 issue of Blue Guidon.