A soldier’s journey is never easy-- David Emigh’s dedication to country, education

A soldier’s journey is never easy-- David Emigh’s dedication to country, education


By Ashley Siskey, Graduate Assistant in JSU’s Public Relations Office
Veteran’s Day officially was yesterday, but we can never honor those that serve, protect and sacrifice for our country too often.  JSU is proud to have many students serving in the Armed Forces.  One of these students, Army Reserve Sergeant David Emigh, began his service prior to beginning his studies at JSU, and continues his studies now as a graduate student, while deployed in Afghanistan.

Originally from Weaver, Ala., Sergeant Emigh spent his formative years in Asheville, N.C., where he enlisted in the Army Reserve as a private during his junior year of high school. Prior to graduating from Asheville School in 2005, Sergeant Emigh completed basic combat training as an enlisted combat engineer.  After high school, he completed his advanced individual training as a motor transport operator and was assigned to the 287th Transportation Company (Combat HET) in Anniston, Ala.

Sergeant Emigh’s first attempt to begin his college studies was quickly thwarted by deployment to New Orleans to provide relief efforts to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  He had only completed twenty-one days at Marion Military Institute and had to withdraw. Given the schedule of a soldier and working as a full-time employee, he knew he needed to select a university and program that offered the flexibility he needed to successfully complete his undergraduate degree. Offering the exact online flexibility needed, Sergeant Emigh enrolled at JSU in the emergency management program in the fall of 2006.

Less than a year later in June 2007, Sergeant Emigh was deployed to Iraq for thirteen months with the 206th Transportation Company out of Opelika, Ala.

Again, he returned to the states and focused on his studies, while working full-time as an air monitoring technician at the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility (ANCDF).  Then, in November 2009, he deployed for a second time, this time to Forward Operating Base Leatherneck in Afghanistan with the 287th Transportation Company. While there, his company supported multiple branches of the military. “It proved to be a long fourteen month deployment,” says Sergeant Emigh, “but I enjoy what I do and believe that it is important. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything – I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible.” Sergeant Emigh received his second Combat Action Badge for exposure to an improvised explosive device.

Upon returning, Sergeant Emigh continued his emergency management studies, worked full-time, and joined the Weaver Volunteer Fire Department, as a fire fighter and EMT. He used his time between deployments to take any opportunity available to further his education and training and completed emergency management professional courses at the Alabama Fire College, Gadsden State Community College, and FEMA. He is also a proud member of Alexandria Lodge Number 208 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Alabama.

In December 2012, six years after enrolling in at JSU, Sergeant Emigh received his BS in Emergency Management with honors. Dr. Jeff Ryan, emergency management department head, remarks, “David Emigh is a soldier scholar. We have a few fine Americans like David in our emergency management program. They never cease to amaze me. Serving our nation proudly, deployed to a war zone, they tote their textbooks with them and work on their studies in a tent in the middle of the desert. What also amazes me is how they perform so well under such conditions. David is a fine example of this and makes me very proud to say he's one of our graduates."

Sergeant Emigh wasted little time and entered the MPA program at JSU in January 2013, while being employed full-time by the Center for Domestic Preparedness COBRA Training Facility as a training support technician. True to history, Emigh was deployed for a third time in June of this year. His unit provides combat convoy security in Afghanistan.

“When we’re not working, we spend time playing practical jokes on one another, watch movies, go to the gym or run. I miss enjoying my other hobbies back home like photography and hiking. But, most of all, I miss my friends and fiancée,” says Emigh.

In July of 2014, after returning from Afghanistan, Emigh plans to marry his fiancée, Ms. Amanda Snellgrove of Glencoe, Ala. He also plans to continue his JSU studies in the MPA program. He’s already getting a head start by spending some of his free time reading textbooks that might be used in future MPA classes.

Photo (courtesy of David Emigh): Sergeant Emigh shows his JSU school spirit half a world away in Afghanistan.

This article first appeared in the Town & Gown section of The Jacksonville News.