August 10, 2011 – The tragic loss of 30 United States troops killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan by a Taliban insurgent is a somber reminder to the Fort Valley State University family about the daily dangers faced by one of their colleagues serving in the region. FVSU’s associate professor of veterinary science, Dr. George McCommon, is a member of the Army National Guard stationed in WardakSouth. The deadly crash took place in Southern Wardak on the border with SouthernLogar where he operates with the Georgia Agriculture Development Team. “A tragedy like this reminds us that there are young people here in their early twenties sacrificing a lot,” said McCommon, responding in an email. “People should remember that lives are lost and it is still a war.”
McCommon left in April on a year-long humanitarian mission with 56 members of the201st Regional Support Team. The group is assisting Afghan people in handling agricultural issues such as livestock, food storage and construction. “One day, you may be talking to senior government officials about policy and the global economy. The next, you may be showing techniques to local vets; and the next looking after a military working dog,” said McCommon.
Days before the horrific helicopter explosion, FVSU’s veterinary science department chair, Dr. Syedmehdi Mobini, talked to McCommon through Skype, a video software program.
“I knew this was the same area where he was,” said Mobini after learning about the attack. “This is a very dangerous region. We are supporting their mission in any way we can as far as information and contacts. He has asked for contacts and we have provided it,” Mobini added.
The veterinary department communicates with McCommon every three weeks, depending on his availability and access to a computer. “He sounded good,” said the department secretary Donna Leonard. “He said he hears bombs around him, but he’s out of harm’s way,” she said.
In photos McCommon emailed, he is shown lecturing in full armor with a gun strapped to a belt above his knee. He works daily with the U.S. Department of State, the USDA, the military and civilians from around the world. “I am afraid that some people may not realize all that is going on. This is a monumental undertaking in areas where civilizations have clashed for centuries. There is so much potential for good here. I am loving what I get to do and I really appreciate the support of the College of Ag and the veterinary science department.”
McCommon, who has 19 years of experience in treating small and large animals, is familiar with military and law enforcement animals. He is also the only FédérationEquestre Internationale veterinarian in the University System of Georgia.
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