It's A Small World

By W. B. "Dub" Borders
East Central University Veterans Upward Bound

a hand holding the earth with paper people on it

There are some odd things that happen in our lifetime, one for example is when we cross paths with people we do not know but with whom we may have common friends. Recently my brother-in law (Shag) told a story of when he had stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas to fill up his car. While filling the car he started a conversation with a man who was nearby getting gas for his car. After learning that Shag was from Oklahoma, the man said that he had a very good Army buddy that lives in Guthrie, Oklahoma and mentioned his name. They served together in the Vietnam War, but he had not seen his buddy since the war was over. Shag said, "Would you like to talk to him? He is one of my best friends." Shag then proceeded to call his friend on his cell phone and then the two Army buddies were able to talk to each other for the first time in over thirty years!!

Along those same lines is an unusual set of circumstances that has occurred in the East Central University (ECU) VUB office this year with four U.S. Marine veterans. Let me introduce you to:

De Riley, U.S. MarineDwayne Riley is an honorably discharged U. S. Marine who has served two tours of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom during the last four years. He is from Purcell, Oklahoma and graduated from high school there. Dwayne is now attending his second semester at ECU and working on a pre-med degree. He is a VA student worker in the ECU VUB office. Even though Dwayne was not a VUB participant, VUB staff members were able to help him obtain transcript information from the Marine Corps and thus help in his enrollment at ECU. Dwayne is an excellent worker and very proficient in the use of all the computer programs. He is definitely an asset to VUB, and we are proud that he has come our way. Dwayne is 6'6" and an avid OU football fan.

Mark Kosemund, U.S. MarineMark Kosemund is a Marine who was honorably discharged December 7, 2007 and received several service awards. During his four year enlistment Mark served a tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mark is from Konawa, Oklahoma and received his HS diploma there. Konawa is also the home town of our Program Director, Mary Huckleberry. Since being discharged from the Marines, Mark has been a successful VUB participant and is now attending classes at ECU. Because of our good fortune we have been able to also hire Mark as a VA student worker. He has two brothers who are currently serving in the Armed Forces, one in the Air Force and the other in the Navy. Mark is 6'7". The VUB staff has to "look up" when talking with our two, Mark and Dwayne, very tall student workers!

Sherea Martin, U.S. MarineSherea Martin is an honorably discharged Marine that is a successful participant of our program. Sherea has received several service awards from the U.S. Marine Corps including the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Sherea is originally from Konawa, Oklahoma and received her HS diploma there. During her youth Sherea was a Camp Fire Girl and our VUB director, Mary Huckleberry, was her Group Leader. Sherea has a younger brother who is also a U.S. Marine and has served in Iraq. Sherea's brother graduated with Mark Kosemund at Konawa High School. Sherea is in the Nursing program at ECU. Her school plans have been put on hold, because she has been given notice that she will be activated during the month of May, 2008 for duty in Iraq. Her sacrifice may even seem greater because Sherea and her husband have two small children, one 16 months old and another three years old.

Justin MartinJustin Martin is an honorably discharged U. S. Marine veteran who graduated from Stratford High School. While playing football at Stratford he competed against Mark Kosemund's younger brother. Another interesting connection between these two is that Justin and Mark were in the same Battalion while at Camp Lejeune, NC. Justin has also received several service medals and the Iraqi Campaign Medal. Justin has been a successful participant in the VUB program at ECU and is presently in his first semester of attendance.

These fine young Marines grew up within a 30 mile radius of each other. They met in our VUB office! The strong bond between them is obvious. Each one was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Three served in Iraq and two (Dwayne and Mark) were very close geographically at the same time, but unaware of each other.
These veterans with the help of VUB and their GI Bill are all pursuing an education at ECU. The VUB staff feels blessed to have been able to get to know and help these dedicated young Marines. We appreciate their service and dedication to our country. All four are in the U. S. Marine Corps Inactive Ready Reserve and could possibly be called to serve again, just as Sherea already has. It is a small, but awesome world we live in.



Montana Dugger, Oklahoma National Guard



Montana, Oklahoma National Guard











Charles Smith, U.S. Marine




Charles, U.S. Navy