For Carnegie Mellon University engineering student Jonathan Carreon (E'13), a hero is someone who willingly places the welfare of others before themselves, especially in spite of grave danger.
"I consider my former squad leader, Sergeant Joshua James Frazier, a hero," said Carreon, former Naval Hospital Corpsman Second Class. "We worked for five months conducting combat operations inside Ramadi, leading 50 missions and coordinating two casualty evacuations. One event led to a Navy Achievement Medal after coordinating our response to a daylight ambush and pulling a wounded Marine from the middle of the street."
Carreon's squad leader was killed during one of their missions.
"His work with us not only kept us safer while he was alive, but also made us a better and more professional squad and platoon for the remainder of the deployment," Carreon said.
CMU alumnus Lt. Col. Christopher Raible (E'95) also made the ultimate sacrifice. He joined the Marines after earning his degree in civil engineering.
Raible died in an attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, aimed at Britain's Prince Harry who was stationed there. He flew more than 2,000 hours in the Harrier AV-8B and won several medals and campaign awards before his death.
When Michael Danko signed up for the U.S. Army, he didn't think of the potential dangers.
"It was an opportunity to serve, to help, to protect people who can't protect themselves," said Danko, a CMU staff member who is now coordinator of the NROTC program.
Eighty-nine students are enrolled in the NROTC program. Of those, 23 are women. Nine more CMU students are in the Army and Air Force ROTC program at University of Pittsburgh.
Serving their country is a Danko family legacy. Seven of Danko's uncles were in the U.S. Army during World War II, and his dad served in the Korean War.
"It's something I thought was the right path for me too. I wanted to emulate them and also have the opportunity to carry the torch," explained Danko, who served in Afghanistan and Kosovo. "And when I found myself in situations that were dangerous, I wasn't overly concerned about myself. I was concerned about anyone in my charge that they were going to be okay."
He added, "That was my job. I was doing what I was trained to do."
We call that a hero. And today, we at CMU honor and thank all the heroes who chose to serve their country.
CMU honored staff, faculty and alumni who are Veterans during a flag-raising ceremony, followed by a moment of silence for Raible and other Veterans who gave their life for their country.
"Showing appreciation on Veterans day, for me, is about acknowledging and raising awareness of the stories, the bravery and the heroism of Veterans past and present," Carreon said.
Danko and Carreon are two of more than 200 staff, faculty and students at CMU who have let us know they are Veterans. If you are a Veteran in the CMU community or know one who is, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.