Purple Heart

York's Military Connections

We are proud of the York College Spartans who have served or are serving our country as members of the armed forces and would like to recognize several distinguished members of this outstanding group. If you know someone deserving of such attention, please drop a note to magazine@ycp.edu.

Colonel Steven Lynch '85

Colonel Steven Lynch '85 Col. Steven M. Lynch, who graduated from York College in 1985 with a degree in Criminal Justice, retired in May as the Provost Marshal of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and The U.S. Army Military District of Washington after 27 years of service.

Lynch was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1985, along with four of his York College classmates. "I was a Criminal Justice major and had a three-year Army ROTC scholarship," he said. "York College was, at that time, an extension campus of Gettysburg College. I was originally detailed to serve as an Infantry officer. In 1985, we were still expecting to fight the Soviets, so the vast majority of young officers commissioned during that time were detailed to Infantry."

Lynch spent three years as an Infantry officer, then requested a transfer to serve as a Military Police officer. "I had an interest to serve my country and an interest in law enforcement, so I knew after my initial tour as an Infantry officer I could request a change in military occupation," he said.  

Lynch's 27-year career as an Army Military Police Officer has included managing law enforcement and security operations, confinement operations, police intelligence operations, counterterrorism and felony crime investigations. He has served as a corrections technical advisor for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command for detainee operations in Somalia; as the executive officer to the Commandant and the Director of Custody for the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks; as warden of the Army's confinement facility in Europe; as a corrections advisor for operations in Kosovo; and as the Commander for the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), working closely with the Office of Military Commissions and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs on highly sensitive and complex detainee issues in support of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"First and foremost, I had the honor and privilege to serve with the very best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in our Armed Forces," he said of his career. "I've had the good fortune to command five different military police organizations at all levels -- captain through colonel. I have commanded in combat and in peacetime.  

"I also have been blessed to have a wide range of experience – corrections, law enforcement, criminal investigations, Professor of Military Science and Department Chair at Saint Bonaventure University, and U.S. senior advisor to the Afghan Minister of Interior, who is responsible for the national police force that totals more than 120,000 uniformed police officers."

He attributes some of his success in the military to a good start at York College.

"York College gave me a solid foundation to begin a 27-year career as an Army Military Police officer," he said. "I had really superb Criminal Justice professors, and I thought the YCP Criminal Justice program was excellent. Professor Martin Devers was simply magnificent and a great mentor."

In June 2012, Lynch began a new chapter in his life when he was selected to serve as the senior Department of the Army civilian employee for the Army Corrections Command (ACC), responsible for oversight of the Army Corrections System and management of the Army's worldwide corrections programs. He and his family currently live in the Virginia area.

Commander Carrie (Hill) Kennedy '91, Ph.D.

Commander Carrie (Hill) Kennedy '91, Ph.D. Commander Carrie (Hill) Kennedy '91, Ph.D., has an impressive list of credentials and achievements.

Kennedy’s academic career began at York College. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology in 1991, then earned a master's degree in Psychology from Washington College in 1993, an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 1995, and a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Drexel University in 2000. During the final year of her Ph.D. program, she accepted a commission as a Lieutenant in the Navy, serving as a psychology intern at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA. “The Navy had always been an attractive option with many of my relatives serving in the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines," she said.

She paid back her time for internship training to the Navy at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan. While there, she was awarded two years of Duty Under Instruction (DUINS), which she spent in the postdoctoral neuropsychology fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical School from 2004 to 2006.

Following DUINS she was transferred to the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, FL where she trained as an Aeromedically Qualified Psychologist; Kennedy is one of two Navy officers qualified to conduct evaluations on Navy and Marine Corps aviators, air crew and air traffic controllers. While stationed in Pensacola, she deployed to the Detention Hospital in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she served as Chief of Behavioral Health Services for detainees, and to Helmand Province, Afghanistan with 1st Medical Battalion, where she worked in the combat hospital assessing blast concussed Marines.

Kennedy is currently the Group Psychologist for the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group in Quantico, VA, where she "assesses and selects the best Marines for Marine Corps Embassy Security duty."

She is the co-editor/co-author of the books Military Neuropsychology, Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life After Deployment; Ethical Practice in Operational Psychology and Military Psychology: Clinical and Operational Applications, now in its second edition. A Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, she serves on the editorial boards of Military Psychology and Psychological Services.

Kennedy's experience at York College played a significant role in her various successes. "York did more than just prepare me academically for graduate school," she said. "Being a Resident Assistant taught me valuable leadership skills. My sorority (Delta Phi Epsilon) experiences developed my teamwork skills. And writing for The Spartan was my first publishing experience. These skills turned out to be critical for my psychology career and for success as a Naval officer."

Major Anthony J. Agbay '01

Major Anthony J. Agbay '01 On the same day that thousands of athletes participated in the Boston Marathon, a group of patriots ran their own marathon on the streets of Bagram, Afghanistan.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Anthony J. Agbay '01 finished sixth in the Boston Marathon Military Shadow Run, which began at 3 a.m. Bagram time to match the start of Boston's marathon.

"I had never competed in a race longer than a 10K, so jumping all the way to a 26.2-mile marathon was quite a challenge," said Agbay, who faced several challenges training for the event. His base in Afghanistan is located at an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, and the air quality is very poor. "I had to do most of my training on a treadmill in a tent," he said. "It was grueling, but it proved to be an effective way of keeping my mind clear while deployed."

Agbay participated in cross country and track and field at Auburn High School, Auburn, MA, and then went on to earn academic All-American honors in cross country at York College in 2000.

"I liked that York was a Division III school, and I would be able to compete on the cross-country and track teams," he said. "I met coach [Rich] Achtzehn when I toured the school, and he was very welcoming. The campus was beautiful, and the students seemed happy. This may have actually been the clincher for me. I toured other schools where the students didn't seem happy. York had a very lively and positive atmosphere."

Agbay graduated magna cum laude from York College (Biology) and was sworn in to the Air Force on Sept. 21, 2001, 10 days after the 9-11 attacks. Selected for a full medical scholarship by the U.S.  Air Force, he graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before serving a five-year residence at Michigan State University. He began his four-year active duty commitment to the Air Force in 2010, and is currently serving as a diagnostic radiologist.

Agbay's experience at York College prepared him well for the rigors of medical school and his current work. "I had the freedom to choose my major, my classes, and how large of a courseload to carry at York," he said. "I also had an academic adviser to help me plan my strategy. The classes were all taught well and taught by professors, not their assistants. I studied hard and was well-prepared for medical school. I was able to excel in medical school, and I could have chosen any medical specialty. The constitution provides the freedom to pursue the American Dream. York College is an excellent institution that provides all the education and support necessary in order to be successful in that pursuit."

Agbay's home base is Langley Air Force Base in VA. While he is deployed, his wife (U.S. Army Capt. Ning Agbay, a career military officer) and children (Anthony, 7; Ace, 6; Maverick, 4) are staying with relatives in Taiwan.

"I joined the military because I love America, the constitution, and freedom," said Agbay. "I believed that joining the military would be a way to defend these things."

Contributing material from a Worcester (MA) Telegram and Gazette article by Ellie Oleson.

Robert Krebs '13

Robert Krebs '13 Senior Robert Krebs, an Early Childhood/Special Education major from York and U.S. Army veteran, was chosen as the 2011-12 Golden Apple Award winner for excellence in the study of Special Education. The Golden Apple Award recognizes a student’s professionalism as an undergraduate scholar at York College, and in public school classrooms, even before they graduate.

Krebs volunteers in special education classrooms throughout York County and has worked for the Lincoln Intermediate Unit as a Substitute Teaching Assistant/Personal Care Assistant. “My goal is not simply a want to work in special education, nor a desire,” he wrote in his application for the Award. “It is, for me, a destiny. Being a teacher of students with special needs is where I belong.”

The Golden Apple Award is presented annually through the generosity of Communications faculty member Lowell Briggs and his wife, Marsha. Their youngest daughter lives with Down Syndrome, and her education and the education of all children with special needs are of primary importance to the Briggs family.

Through the Department of Education at York College, they provide a cash award to the Education major with the highest GPA in their Special Education studies. Applicants apply for the honor annually, which includes having their names inscribed on The Golden Apple Award plaque in the Education Department. Education faculty members review the applications and select annual recipients.

“Your military service has engrained in you the superb attributes of duty, honor, integrity and service,” wrote Lowell Briggs in Krebs’ award letter.

“Few of your academic peers can appreciate what those words truly mean to the extent you can. Just as you have been tested in the U.S. Army, you will be challenged differently in the special education classroom.”

Krebs enlisted in 2005 at the age of 17. "I decided to enlist out of a sense of responsibility, to both my community and to my country," he said. "I felt that if I would not do it, who would? At the time, we were two years into the Iraq war, and four years into Afghanistan. I didn't know if I would end up in either, but I enlisted nonetheless."

Krebs completed basic training between his junior and senior year of high school, then went on to active duty following graduation. "Needless to say, it was a unique experience for someone so young," he said. "I would be lying if I didn't also mention that I was feeling a bit adventurous as well. I certainly got my adventure."

While on active duty (2005-2007, with the exception of his senior year of high school), Krebs served in Field Artillery as a forward observer, "the guy that directs artillery fire." He also served in that capacity later as a member of the National Guard, before switching to Signal Corps and working with satellite communication devices. He was activated again in 2008-2009 to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. "That is the job I did in Iraq, providing secure communications for helicopters and convoys," he said.

Upon his return from Iraq, he married Kayla, who is also an educator. Krebs made the decision to attend York College at that time. "As a lifelong resident of York, York College was my natural choice. I have to say that it has been a perfect fit so far. I am very happy with my academics, and the level of challenge afforded me by York College keeps me busy."

Darren Lunsford '15

Darren Lunsford '15 In 2005, Darren Lunsford '15, an Elementary Education major from Dover, PA, was wounded while riding on a supply convoy on an Iraqi highway system. He recently received a Purple Heart for his combat injuries.

Lunsford enlisted in the Air Force in 2004 to help pay for college. "After realizing I couldn't afford college, I decided on the military since they offer the GI Bill with enlistment," he said. "I settled on the Air Force because of the way the recruiter treated me opposed to the way other branches' recruiters did."

While on deployment in Iraq, Lunsford was the lead vehicle gunner on the .50-caliber machine gun, providing security for the convoy, which had been hit 13 times in six months by Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)s. He doesn't remember the explosion on Nov. 15, 2005, that knocked him unconscious. A medic checked him out and found he was bleeding from the ear. They thought he might have a concussion and a punctured ear drum.

On the return trip the following day, Lunsford's truck was hit again. This time, several of the discs in his spine were left herniated or bulging. The ear injury turned into a constant ringing noise in his head. When he returned to Andrews Air Force Base in MD, doctors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Before he left Andrews, Lunsford landed a job transporting dignitaries, including Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, who told him he should have been awarded a Purple Heart for his combat injuries. Klotz helped with the paperwork, but in 2006, Lunsford was denied the medal due to a lack of medical records.

"I figured if a general sends it and it gets denied, it's over," Lunsford said. "No big deal. At least I'm alive."

Then, at a hearing regarding his medical benefits in August 2011, someone asked if he'd received a Purple Heart. He explained what had happened. A few months went by, and on the day before his 27th birthday, he received a call and was told he would be awarded the medal. Tanya McGough, a counselor with an organization called the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2), had the pleasure of making the call. The request had been approved as a result of the AFW2 gathering and packaging the necessary documentation.

"You can tell people all these stories," Lunsford said. "But to actually have proof and recognition for the things you did. It kind of made it all worth your while and the hell you went through."

Lunsford enrolled at Harrisburg Area Community College following his discharge, and once he had earned enough credits, he transferred to York College as an Early Childhood Education major. He believes his experience as a veteran is quite different from that of many of the students who join him in the classroom.

"I have a wife and a 2-year-old son who are relying on me to finish my degree as quickly as possible and to gain employment in the near future," he said. "I'm having 100% of my education paid for, and on top of that getting paid to be a full-time student. These are both great perks, but they didn't come without a price. Overall, I feel like the route I've taken has given me a higher appreciation of the importance of what it means to be able to be in college. I must succeed; failure is not an option."

Contributing material from a York Sunday (PA) News article by Bill Landauer.