When Lawrence Tech celebrated Veterans Day with a ceremony in the Buell Management Building atrium on Nov. 11, mechanical engineering student and former Staff Sergeant Kirill Pavlov brought the meaning of service into focus with a personal anecdote from the liberation of Baghdad in 2003.
While his Army artillery unit was guarding a base of the former Republican Guard of Saddam Husein’s regime, dozens of Iraqi citizens came to the gates to inquire about relatives who had been arrested without due process and were never heard from again.
“I saw how the people appreciated being free from Saddam’s rule,” Pavlov said. “I knew then that we had done a good thing.”
After graduating from Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Pavlov enlisted in the Army in 2002 and within a year was part of the force that liberated Iraq. He was trained as a crew member for the Palladin, a mobile artillery piece with a shooting range of 18 miles. Later he served on the infantry patrols that were so dangerous to our soldiers due to roadside bombs.
He returned to Iraq for a second tour in 2005-06 and also served in Afghanistan for 13 months in 2011-12.
Pavlov acknowledges that the ongoing sectarian violence in Iraq has made it harder to judge the ultimate success of the American mission, and there are similar uncertainties about the ultimate outcome in Afghanistan.
But he remains convinced that serving in the military was both the right thing to do for his country and for himself. “Being in the Army provided me with an amazing set of experiences. I gained a lot personally. I grew in my ability to lead people and deal with stress,” he said.
When he left the military in 2012, he set his sights on a job in the aerospace industry and decided that the best path would be a bachelor’s degree program in engineering. He was considering several other universities when his father suggested Lawrence Tech. A major attraction was a pro-veteran attitude that both he and his family saw at LTU.
He has also been impressed by the service provided by Norma Julka, LTU’s financial aid and veteran affairs coordinator. “Norma is amazing. She takes care of everything,” he said.
Almost 100 veterans take courses at LTU during an academic year.
Pavlov believes that earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Lawrence Tech will provide the educational foundation that he needs for his chosen profession. He considered transferring to the University of Michigan Ann Arbor to enter its aerospace degree program, but opted to stay at LTU and minor in aeronautical engineering.
“I love the small classes and my professors’ attention to detail. It has been an awesome experience,” he said.