Veteran's Day at The Rutgers EMBA Powerhouse

Here I was at the EMBA Welcome Dinner in Beijing, with the Emba class several years ago. It was the customary Peking Duck night. I was at a table with about 8 Embas, and we had the Lazy Susan being kept busy with an unending array of Chinese delicacies. As we poked about with our chopsticks, I noticed that our Emba student, Jamie Lopez, was wearing a Tag Heuer watch. So, being a "watch guy", I asked him if it was real or "the Chinese version".

Jamie mumbled (barely audibly) "real".  I then persisted, in my typically annoying fashion: "Gift? From the wife?" That watch is expensive--it could be in the $7-9,000 range.

He simply said "no" while trying to spear a rogue piece of tofu with his chopstick. So I tried again, determined to get to the bottom of this, "Gift from family?"

He replied, almost inaudibly, "Gift from my commanding general while in Iraq."

All the chopsticks came down. The table went silent. Here is the story:

Jamie's commanding officer's son and his buddy are lost on a reconnaissance mission--one wrong turn, then another, and then, you guessed it, they find themselves in the worst possible part of Baghdad! They are lost in Fallujah. Before they know it, the baddies are swarming the Humvee. They frantically race into a building, locking doors behind them, and make it to the terrace and call for help.

Jamie and his platoon (Rangers, I think) deploy within minutes. The CH-47 Chinooks thunder to the building, a storm of dust in their wake. Using FRIES (Fast Rope Insertion Extraction Systems), Jamie and his team slip down from their guide-ropes from the helicopters and land on the roof as the baddies now pound up the stairs and swarm the building. It is looking like Black Hawk Down all over again. Jamie deploys his snipers and they "clear the streets".   

I exclaimed foolishly, "you mean you gunned them down?' Jamie looked at me for a second and said "No Farrokh--we just used foul language. What do you think?!"

In any event, Jamie rescues the 2 stranded soldiers, and is the last to be lifted out, literally seconds before their rooftop sanctuary falls to the enemy.
His grateful CO then asked Jamie what he would like as a gift for saving the life of his son--and he insisted that Jamie ask for a real gift. Hence the Tag Heuer watch.

The silence around the table was deafening. The Lazy Susan had been immobile for minutes as we sat there transfixed, the food left untouched. Even Jamie's own study group had no idea! We were all thunderstruck.  

But here is the clincher. I had to pry--pry--the story out of this shy, reluctant, and shockingly modest hero.  
For this is the stuff real heroes are made of.  

Rutgers EMBA is proud to announce that some of our star graduates are veterans of the US armed forces---the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have all been well and proudly represented. In fact, this year we have four Colonels in the class! In addition, the REMBA programs synergizes closely with the Rutgers MiniMBA Certificate Program for Veterans, and several of the graduates of these MiniMBA’s have transferred over to Rutgers EMBA.

Welcome to the Powerhouse.
Farrokh Langdana


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