Student delays diploma for duty

Imagine this: You are three months away from graduation. You have a job lined up and freedom is within your reach.

Then imagine that it is all postponed indefinitely, because you are a member of the Army Reserves and have been called to duty in anticipation of a war with Iraq.

This is what happened to Chase Law School student and Army Capt. John Dunn who had planned to graduate in May and then begin a job at Reminger and Reminger law firm in Cincinnati.

These plans were postponed when The Department of Defense reported the mobilization of 111,603 members of the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Reserves and National Guard on Feb. 5.

Instead of attending class every day for the next three months and participating in May’s graduation ceremony, Dunn will be training at Fort Campbell, Ky. and then transferred to an undisclosed location.

Dunn said he is not angry about postponing graduation and a civilian career. He plans to return to Chase to finish his law degree when he returns.

“It’s a matter of putting off the graduation until a later time,” he said. “It’s what I do; I’m a soldier and always have been. It’s my first and foremost duty.”

Dunn is a member of Army Reserve Engineer Battalion 478 stationed at Brooks-Lawler Reserve Center in Fort Thomas.

The battalion was called to duty earlier this month and departed Feb. 8 for Fort Campbell. Dunn said that he did not have specific information as to the battalion’s destination after Fort Campbell.

Dunn’s division, Headquarters, oversees the other three divisions of Battalion 478. Dunn is the logistics officer for the battalion. His duties include the supervision of ammunition, food, supplies, equipment and vehicle maintenance.

Dunn said his feelings about being deployed “run the gamut. There’s some anxiety, stress, excitement and disappointment.”

“I’m staying busy, though, from early morning until late at night,” he said. “Sometimes your personal feelings are the last thing on your mind.”

Dunn leaves behind his parents, two sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews. He plans to keep in contact with them as often as possible. He said the Army provides its troops with individual email accounts and monthly “morale calls” to speak with loved ones back home.

Dunn is a native of the Northern Kentucky area and a graduate of Covington Catholic High School. He graduated Xavier University in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He then joined the army and served four years on active duty. He served in Korea from 1997 to 1998.

In August 2000, Dunn enrolled at Chase.

“I’ve had a great experience [at Chase],” Dunn said, “The whole experience, especially law school itself, has been very enjoyable.”

He was president of the Student Bar Association until he resigned his post when called to service this month. He was also a member of the Federalist Society and of Chase Law School’s Trial Advocacy team.

Reminger and Reminger lawyer Bob Hojonski was Dunn’s coach on the Trial Advocacy team. Hojonski hired Dunn at the firm and admires his “great work ethic” and “extremely disciplined, unyielding” attitude.

He describes Dunn as a “conscientious, hardworking individual who is personable, likable and a leader.” He added that the firm would hold Dunn’s job for him until his return from the service and subsequent graduation.

Dunn worked on Northern Kentucky University’s “Shaping Dreams” advertising campaign in 2002. He was featured in a video and brochure.

Jim Pickering, director of Special Projects and Communications for NKU’s Office of Marketing and Communications, managed the project.

Pickering said he was impressed by Dunn’s professionalism and maturity.

He said that Dunn is “a young man who is going places, irrespective of what area of law he chooses to practice. He’ll be quite successful.”

Dunn also worked for two years as a law clerk for the University Council and for six months as an interim risk manager for the university.

Sara Sidebottom, the vice president for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, worked with Dunn in the Legal Services department for 2 years. Previous to that, he was her juvenile probation officer when she was a Kenton County District Judge.

“He was reliable, dependable, honest, hardworking and respected by all who worked with him,” Sidebottom said. “His duty to his country has always come first, and that’s what we admire about him.”

The department plans to keep in touch with Dunn through care packages and letters.

“No matter how far away from home he is, we want him to know his family at home is thinking of him,” Sidebottom said.