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Alumni Civilians, Soldiers
Toiling in Iraq

  Blake Rasmussen  

Lt. Col. George Krivo '84 (second from left) stands with another U.S. Army officer (far left) and their security detail from the United Kingdom-"who are very concerned that we could get shot by a sniper," Krivo notes-at the base of the tomb of the unknown Iraqi soldier in Baghdad. Behind them are helmets taken off dead Iranian soldiers from the Iran-Iraq war.

Leland Bowie '61 on a visit to Petra, Jordan, in February 2004. He is in Iraq working with the Baghdad city council to build a democracy.

John "Jay" Rowland '03 poses in front of an old Iraqi tank. He is a member of the Iowa National Guard's Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation unit serving in Iraq.

They spend their time fixing helicopters, teaching an entire city how to run a democracy, and speaking to the world media on a daily basis.

They face constant gun battles, mortar fire, and disparate enemies focused on making sure they fail.

They are our men and women serving in Iraq, and Cornell's own alumni are doing their part to rebuild the wartorn nation.

Their jobs are many, varied, and integral to the rebuilding effort. There's John "Jay" Rowland '03, a member of the Iowa National Guard's Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation unit who thinks daily of getting back to his wife, Lindsay Adams Rowland '02, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Then there's Leland Bowie '61, a man who's made a career out of knowing the ins and outs of the Middle East, teaching Baghdad citizens just what democracy is in the face of generations of brutal authoritarian rule.

Cornellians even rank as high as Lt. Col. George Krivo '84, chief spokesman for coalition forces to all of the world's media, charged with the duty of daily coordinating the publicity blitz of their latest triumph, or delivering more somber news.

Each of these Cornellians is contributing to post-war Iraq in his own way, and each has his own opinions about the American occupation. "Although I was opposed to the war last spring," said Bowie, who now works directly with the Baghdad city council, "I do feel that we have an obligation to help the Iraqis rebuild their country."

Bowie works for the Research Triangle Institute, a private organization funded by the U.S. government and sent into Iraq for the purposes of building democracy from the ground up. Bowie has spent most of his life studying, teaching, or living in the Middle East and speaks some Arabic. But even his familiarity with the area has not made his job an easy task.

"My experience has been very rewarding as well as frustrating," said Bowie, "as it is difficult to change mindsets and practices which have gone on for generations."

While Bowie tries to change the attitudes of the locals, Krivo spends his days trying to influence the attitudes of the rest of the world.

As the coalition's chief military spokesman, as well as spokesman for the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, Krivo is often the last word on the progress of the rebuilding process.

"Every day, progress is being made in Iraq and we are winning the war," said Krivo. "The reconstruction is progressing at a tremendous pace."

Cautions Krivo, "We are still engaged in a struggle with a ruthless enemy who will continue to attack coalition and Iraqi targets."

Rowland knows that all too well. He sees it every day as a helicopter mechanic and door gunner. He also occasionally pulls tower duty.

Rowland has seen what that ruthless enemy can do. On Nov. 2, one of his unit's 14 helicopters was shot down, killing 16 soldiers including three in his unit.

"We lost three very good friends that day as well as the compassion for the Iraqis," said Rowland, "They are all dangerous and could pose a threat to me seeing my wife again, and nobody or nothing will stop that from happening again."

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