In Honor of Veterans Day

photo of Alex Pistole and 3rd Squad
Alex Pistole's squad in Kunar Province. From left to right - Piquet, Chavez, Alex, Barto, Corgan, McKinn, Lyons (kneeling) and Payton.

Veteran Alex Pistole credits the military, Radford University for his journalistic passion

By Matthew Perry

Alex Pistole believes that Veterans Day should be more of a celebration rather than a somber day. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day after World War I.

He will be spending his Veterans Day getting a discounted catfish dinner at BT’s. Pistole is a senior at Radford University and a veteran who served in Afghanistan. He is planning to graduate in spring 2016 with a media studies degree with a concentration in journalism.

When Pistole first enlisted he joined as airborne infantry or parachuting. Joining the military gave him the chance to travel, which he got to do while part of 173rd Airborne Brigade.

“I was stationed in Italy, obviously Afghanistan, and a bunch of other different countries, and got to bounce all over Europe on the weekends,” Pistole said.  “Journalism felt like a way to combine writing which I like a lot and traveling.”

Other than realizing that journalism was where he wanted to go with his future, Pistole was also able to gain valuable knowledge while serving.

“One thing I learned from going to Afghanistan is that, people always tell you, ‘you can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be’,” Pistole said. “But until you really put that to the test you don’t necessarily believe it. And I pushed myself beyond every limit I thought I had while I was over there.”

Pistole did not join the airborne infantry right out of high school. He went to Virginia Commonwealth University for a semester where he decided it was time to enlist.

“I had just started my second semester at VCU and I decided that it wasn’t for me. So, I walked down Broad Street to the army recruiter,” Pistole said. “However it was 10 miles so I called my dad and said, ‘Look I just walked out of college, I’m on my way to the recruiter, you can pick me up if you want but I’m going to enlist today.”

Pistole’s grandfather and father both served in the military and he wanted to carry on the tradition. Keeping the family tradition going was important to Pistole, but he gained a lot personally when he came out of the military.

 “I definitely gained a lot of maturity through the military in certain respects like self-discipline,” Pistole said. “I don’t get stressed out about school anymore. I look at school more as job training and grades aren’t the end all be all.”

Radford University has been named as one of the top 100 colleges in America for Veterans in the Military Times. Pistole notes that he has really enjoyed his time at Radford. He has gained great experience both inside and outside the classroom. He served as the editor-in-chief for The Tartan last year and speaks fondly of that experience.

“It was probably the best experience I’ve had since being here at Radford,” Pistole said. “It was a really good experience because it taught me so much about journalism and it expanded on everything I had learned in the classroom.” 

Pistole has also collected some accolades along the way, which include “outstanding sophomore” and “outstanding junior” consecutively in the School of Communication’s media studies program.

He will be graduating in May of 2016 and will be thanking Radford and its professors for helping him achieve his dream. However, everyday people should be thanking him for his service in the military. 

Nov 11, 2015
School of Communication