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DLI instructor awarded SECDEF award for service

  • Published
  • By Tony Perez
  • 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office
Defense Language Institute instructor Beverly Hall was one of 14 civilians to be the first to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Global War on Terrorism on Feb. 26. 

The award was originally created March 12, 2003, for military personnel who served in designated antiterrorism operations for a period of at least 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days. 

However, last year the medal was approved to be awarded to civilians who volunteered their services in a combat zone in support of military operations. 

Ms. Hall served 22 months during two tours in Iraq, teaching English to Iraqi air force pilots and flight crews. 

"In January 2006 we started training the new college graduates that had just gotten out of engineering school to be the new face of the Iraqi military," Ms. Hall said. 

Before 2006, instructors like Ms. Hall taught English only half the day. During the other half, military personnel were teaching Iraqi air force members aircraft maintenance techniques and procedures. 

"When we started teaching them English full time, it was easier for everybody," Ms. Hall said. "Their comprehension level was higher. My engineering students could have complex conversations about government and other ideas in three or four months." 

Ms. Hall recalled the most memorable conversation she had with a student during her time in Iraq. 

"I asked my class what is one thing about your country that you would change if you had the power and money to do so. One student told me, 'I would become president so that my family would not be afraid.' That just blew me away," Ms. Hall said. 

Arabic is the native language of Iraq, but like most languages, there are several Arabic dialects. 

"When you factor that they were living in a war zone, and the stress that came with that, it was very impressive how quickly they picked up English," Ms. Hall said. 

While the work was rewarding, Ms. Hall admitted that working in a war zone was not easy for all of the civilians. 

"We lived in tents and wore individual battle armor," Ms. Hall said. "When we were down south it was relatively safe, but when we went north to Baghdad, we were getting shot at pretty regularly. It is not something that civilians are really trained to do. Everyone on that list had to volunteer." 

Still, the DLI instructor in her fourth year at Lackland spoke fondly of her unique experience and her time in Iraq. 

"The living conditions didn't bother me at all," Ms. Hall said. "Those students were sacrificing so much. They've lived in tyranny all their lives, lived in war all their lives and the opportunity to offer them hope and a future was worth it for me." 

Ms. Hall was happy to see civilians recognized for their efforts in combat zones. 

"It's a tremendous honor to see civilians be recognized for giving back to our country, our president and the Iraqi people," Ms. Hall said. 

DLI has been deploying instructors to hazardous duty zones since 2002. 

"I'd go back tomorrow if they let me," Ms. Hall said. "DLI is the only place where you can be an ambassador to the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that's what I love most about my job."

Additional DLIELC civilian volunteers to Iraq in support of ELT include instructors Clayton Leishman, Urinda Hernandez, Sherry Power, Ron Durbin, Ann Peters, Russell Richards, Mary K. Holmes, Patsy Middlebrook, Robert Smith, Jamie Blount, Lisa McCreary, Branda Scott, Jo Anne Trad, Tyler Hawkins, Cindy McBride, Joe Bellino, Richard Kilmer, Frank Lawrence, Jeremy Beussink, Brenda Brewer, Wes Trueblood, Robert Ruedemann, Sandra Ransom-Hubert, Paul Burroughs, Craig Dougherty, Peggy Halliburton, Cynthia Jankovic, David Pater and Sharon Wood.

DLIELC civilian volunteers to Afghanistan in support of ELT include instructors Dawn Moore,  Clayton Leishman, Tom Lawrence, Roberto Farias, Lorain Cardenas, Craig Dougherty,  Kenneth Stroebel, Urinda Hernandez, Sally Carter, James Blount, George Minjarez, Chuck Morris, Frank Lawrence, Irene Mann, Bernard Rauch, Leslie Eble, John Salazar, Francesca Nice, Alan Deardorff, Phyllis Santleben, Susan Ruppel, Mary K. Holmes and Roger Cohen.