By JOHN COFFELT
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Moon of Beech Grove, currently deployed in Afghanistan, spent last week worrying more about his finals than the dangers of living in a combat zone.
Moon, aside from fixing the robots that sniff out and defuse explosive devices for EOD personnel in the Kandahar Providence, was able to graduate Wednesday from Motlow College, during the college’s first teleconferenced ceremony.
Moon recently finished his last 10 hours of classes at the end of his 11-month deployment.
“Everything is mission dictated,” Moon said during the teleconference, “so I have to make time to study when I have it – which is mostly at night.”
This is Moon’s third deployment abroad. He mobilized to Iraq twice before being sent to Afghanistan this time.
“He has almost spent more time away than here,” said his father Billy Moon of Unionville. “Before this he was at Fort Benning, [Ga.]”
Moon spent 18 months at Fort Benning teaching explosive ordnance disposal personnel how to operate the robots.
Juggling a full time career, raising three children and serving his country has been tough for the 19-year veteran of the Army Reserve.
“Being a husband and a father has been (tough). The timeline is a nightmare, to make all things right and do right by my family,” Moon said.
In attendance at the graduation were Moon’s three children, his brother, Toby Moon, and his parents and grandparents.
His father, holding back tears, told Moon how proud he is of his son and how much the family misses him.
“I’ll feel a whole lot better when I see you at home,” he said.
His brother, Toby, also in the Army Reserve, told Moon, “You’re my big brother and I’ve always looked up to you. You’re the reason I’m wearing the uniform now.”
The younger brother said that he has always known that Moon was more than capable of doing this.
Moon’s wife, Christy, will be graduating with a bachelor of science in elementary education from Motlow and Tennessee Tech University’s coordinated 2+2 program on Saturday. She was unable to attend the ceremony.
Moon’s deployment will end in three weeks.
Upon his return, Moon plans to transfer to MTSU to study robotics at the Unmanned Aircraft Systems program there.
Growing up and throughout high school, Moon felt didn’t feel that he was “college-level material,” so he went into the military.
“Getting this degree is the biggest thing I’ve ever overcome,” He said.
The small ceremony was the first of two graduations via Skype held Wednesday for deployed military personnel.
Motlow President Dr. MaryLou Apple opened the ceremony honoring Moon.
“This is a very special point to make,” she said. “He is graduating with honors.”
Motlow Provost Dr. Bonny Copenhaver conferred the degree.
“We are extremely proud of you for your service. Thank you for sacrificing on our behalf,” she said.
In Afghanistan, Lt. Luke Peterson presented Moon his diploma.
“It’s such a true testament to [Moon] that he’s over here serving his country, providing a critical capability that’s saving soldiers’ lives, and finishing up this degree at the same time,” He said.
Peterson said that Moon and his fellow non-commissioned officers are constantly being recognized for the work that they do.
The second graduation was for Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Allan Banta, stationed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. She also received an Associate of Science in general studies. She is a flight medic.