September 24, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Natalie Quinn Student Intern

Student Takes Semester off to Serve in Iraq

VALDOSTA - Last spring, Freddie Lewis Hudson Jr. volunteered to put his education at Valdosta State University on hold for a firsthand experience in today's terrorist conflict. After four and a half months of saving the lives of dauntless young men in Iraq, Hudson had a new perspective on life when he returned to the United States.

In January, Hudson was deployed by the Air Force Reserve from Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins to Balad Air Base in Iraq to serve as a satellite communicator.

"I thought a lot would be chaotic and that I'd be in immediate danger, but because of my job field, I wasn't put in a situation where I was really in eminent danger," Hudson said.

As a communicator, he installed and updated military radio equipment in military vehicles and alarm systems. His work helped to improve the ER response time so transmissions from Medevacs helicopters could be received before a patient arrived.

He also spent time in Iraq off base, volunteering with the hospital to help transport injured soldiers using Medevacs. In critical cases, his team airlifted the victims to Ramstein AFB's hospital in Germany. Hudson said he was surprised to find that the soldiers with the most critical injuries were joking and talking about their families, keeping the crew strong.

"The least that I could do was help them and ease whatever pain they were going through," Hudson said. "Their lives had changed because of injuries, yet they still could see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Hudson also had a few encounters with some Iraqi locals. He was surprised to see a lot of soldiers interacting with Iraqi children and locals not threatened by the base. He also said that there were a few locals who were actually able to come onto the base.

"Everyone should have some type of experience with what's going on in today's terrorist conflict," Hudson said, directing his comments to those not deployed yet. "Being military, there are things you see and learn that you can't experience in other places."

The only son of a hardworking mother and father, Hudson was born in Columbia, S.C. As a freshman already enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, he joined VSU's AFROTC program knowing that it would lead him into a superior leadership opportunity with the previous experience already under his belt. The 21-year-old graphic design major claims that art is his passion and that when he graduates and commissions, he will continue his passion along with his duties in the USAF.

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