New England’s Own

In light of our most recent military victory in the global War on Terror, we as a nation cannot forget that there is work still to be done. Members of our armed forces are deployed around the world doing exactly what they were doing yesterday: routing out terrorists wherever they may hide.  In fact, units across the nation are still mobilizing for yearlong tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Just last month, on April 15th, 2011, orders were sent to members of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, Fort Devens, Massachusetts.  This proud US Marine Corps Reserve unit, known as “New England’s Own,” has already mustered and shipped out for training. Our nation’s best and brightest are among these hometown heroes; fire fighters, police officers, doctors, lawyers, and even a banker or two are listed among our troops. These men and women from all walks of life truly exemplify the citizen-soldier ethos.

In the wake of this latest call-to-arms, the Armed Forces Alumni Association  at Harvard Business School (HBS) presented a Blue Star Banner in honor of Daniel Gwak, a current HBS Student in the Class of 2012 who reported for duty at Fort Devens on Thursday, April 28th. His orders are scheduled to end in June, 2012.

The history surrounding the Blue Star Service Flag extends back to the First World War. Since World War II, the Service Flag has been the official banner authorized by the Department of Defense for display by families or organizations that have members serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war.  The Harvard Business School community is proud to fly the Service Flag for Lance Corporal Daniel Gwak.

After immigrating to the United States from Korea, Mr. Gwak become a naturalized citizen and graduated from Cornell University in 2005. He then spent two years in Mergers & Acquisitions at Credit Suisse and continued to hone his financial skills at the Carlyle Group. While his Wall Street career blossomed, a desire to do more and to be a part of something larger than himself, even larger than Wall Street, grew inside Gwak. Like thousands of immigrants before him, Gwak wanted to serve the country that provided so much.

In 2008, Gwak joined the world’s strongest brotherhood. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves, completed basic training, and returned to civilian life. Shortly after, he was accepted into the full time MBA program at Harvard Business School and began classes last September as a member of the Class of 2012. And today, one year shy of his graduation date, Lance Corporal Gwak has been called to action.

A current HBS student and military veteran commented, “Dan is a selfless American and we’re tremendously proud of his courage. Displaying this banner until he returns to his academic studies will serve as an important reminder to the entire community that one of our own is currently in harm’s way.”

Throughout the school’s long history, students have periodically received similar orders, highlighting the close relationship between HBS and the U.S. Military which began during the First World War and is steeped in mutual respect. By World War II, HBS became a virtual service academy as it prepared entire classes to support the war effort. Today, veterans, reservists and active duty personnel make up approximately 5% of each class.

Being a true citizen-soldier, Lance Corporal Gwak is an important reminder that the strength of our military stems not from high tech weapons and computers, but rather from the hearts and minds of those brave souls who wear the uniform.  Aswe enjoy Memorial Day, let us all take a moment to thank those who serve or have served in the military and commemorate those who sacrificed everything so we can enjoy the freedoms unique to this great nation.

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