Article and Photography Angela Broockerd
With absolutely no flying experience and a college degree that in no way prepared him in for a military career, Jeff Wagoner drove to Kansas City and applied to be an aviator. At that time, many other people his age were trying to do the same thing. He credits being an Eagle Scout for setting him apart from much of his competition. “Being an Eagle Scout not only looked good on my application, but more importantly, scouting instilled in me a sense of service that is important in serving successfully in the military.”
Captain Wagoner got his commission through Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida and remained there for flight school. “There was no “Maverick” or “Iceman” in the real Naval aviation.” Captain Wagoner remembers, “ My call sign (nickname) was ‘Cheese’. You got your call sign for doing something stupid or embarrassing or both.”
After 6 years active duty, Captain Wagoner served as a drilling reservist for 17 years. Both provided a variety in missions, including cruising from San Diego around Cape Horn at the tip of South America to Virginia on an aircraft carrier that needed to be overhauled. Flying 43 missions in the Persian Gulf and serving as a lead planner for international security forces during the 2004 Athens Olympics, each offered opportunities to visit many ports of call including Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong. The military offered life lessons; attention to detail, accepting responsibility for one’s actions and service to others are some that stand out to him.
Dr. Michelle Olson
Dr. Olson was deployed to Iraq in May of 2008 to July of 2009 with the 464th Medical Corp. Her unit was in charge of dental clinics scattered across the southern half of Iraq, in which she was designated as the Officer in Charge at Taji Dental Clinic. She completed the remainder of her active duty service in Germany. Throughout her time in the Army, she was privileged to be surrounded by seasoned dentists who were ready and willing to share their knowledge.
“All of my experiences in the Army helped me to become a better dentist and gave me an abundance of experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. In addition, I was able to live in Germany and travel all over Europe, which was an experience that I would only have had from being in the Army.” After completing her four years of active duty, Dr. Olson spent her first year in Virginia Beach, and finally settled in Kansas City in 2011.
Tales of jumping out of planes and a fascination with the outdoors and adventure initially piqued Dave Tiehen’s interest in the military. But it was the intense training, leadership opportunities, and the real world mission of the war on terrorism that gripped him and took him around the world as a military officer serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tiehen was born and raised in Kansas City. He attended Rockhurst High School and then Northwest Missouri State University, where he participated in the Army’s ROTC program. Following graduation, he was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer and stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas, where he served as an Assistant Battalion Intelligence Officer in the 1st Cavalry Division and later as Company Executive Officer.
In December 2008, Tiehen’s unit was deployed to Mosul in Northern Iraq for a one-year tour. Primarily serving on base, he provided intelligence briefs and reports to commanders and units on patrol about the area, describing the enemy, their tactics and local populations.
“At the time, Al Qaeda had largely been driven out of the capital city of Baghdad, but it still had a heavy presence in Mosul,” Tiehen says. “A lot of resources were focused to us, because we were in the spot where things were happening. It was Al Qaeda’s last stand.”
After serving for a year in Iraq, Tiehen received additional training stateside. He was then assigned to the role of Battalion Intelligence Officer in the 1st Infantry Division at Ft. Riley Kansas. His battalion was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 for an anticipated nine-month tour.
In Afghanistan, a health setback caused Tiehen to be medically evacuated to Germany. Doctors discovered a blood clot in his leg, prescribed blood-thinning medication and declared him not fit for active duty. After a six-year Army career, Tiehen was medically discharged.