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English major Steve Kurczak ('97) earns Bronze Star for leadership in Iraq
By Caitlin Harrison ('10)
Army Maj. Steve Kurczak ('97) with wife Christie at a formal ball.
Army Maj. Steve Kurczak ('97) is an active duty soldier with 13 years of service, and he is currently with U.S. Army Central in Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Ga. Kurczak works as a liaison officer — a go-between for his headquarters and a coalition or foreign nation. It's a long way from his English classes at JMU, but Kurczak also served in the JMU ROTC battalion.
"I know that my time at JMU paved the way for my success in my Army career," says Kurczak, who was also deployed to Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo for three months in November 2002. It was a peacekeeping mission, and Kurczak acted as the assistant brigade support officer. "I like inspiring others and working with other nations to improve their country without violence," he adds.
When Kurczak held the Army captain rank, he qualified for a promotion to company (or battery) command. "I was a field artillery officer so we had batteries, which were considered the smallest unit level, roughly 90 to 100 soldiers," he explains. While on company command, Kurczak was in charge of logistics and maintenance of a field artillery battalion, which includes five artillery batteries.
"I commanded soldiers who were unit cooks, fuelers, mechanics, supply specialists, ammunition transporters and movement specialists," says Kurczak. "I took command a month or so before my battery and battalion were ordered to serve a year with all of First Infantry Division from Germany in the Diyala Province in Iraq." Kurczak and his command served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.
Steve and Christie enjoy the snow with their three Future Dukes.
As the Forward Operating Base mayor in Baqubah, Iraq, Kurczak was in charge of construction contracts for the FOB, supplying soldiers to escort workers from the population and overseeing contractors for trash and human waste removal. Kurczak was also responsible for the daily logistics convoy that went to the neighboring FOB, where the brigade headquarters and logistics depot were located. Since his tour in Iraq, Kurczak has not had to return to the battlefield, but he still participates in training exercises in Kuwait and Egypt with his current unit.
"At the end of 2005, my boss recognized me with a Bronze Star for my efforts," says Kurczak. "I brought all my soldiers home with minor or no injuries. I am having a blast in the Army," says Kurczak. "I love what I do and expect to make it at least six more years to retirement."