ROTC instructor receives Soldier Hero honor

One of UCA’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) instructors was honored as a Soldier Hero at the 13th annual Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5 in San Antonio, Texas.

Master Sgt. Joel D. Fehl received the honor during the week leading up to the game televised nationally onNBC. Fehl was a part of many different activities during his time at the game.

The Army All-American Bowl is an annual game designed to give the nation’s top high school football prospects one last chance to take to the field before college. Around 90 of the top prospects participate in the game, which uses a classic East vs. West platform to divide teams.

Fehl, along with other Soldier Heroes, participated in the game’s opening ceremony.

Fehl was given the opportunity to meet some of the participants and share some of his experiences.

“Once we got down there, we linked up with a lot of the people involved,” Fehl said. “We met with players, band members and many other people. For the most part, we spent the week mentoring them.”

Fehl said he has been a part of the UCA ROTC program for about two years. Fehl is a Military Science Level III instructor with the university. Along with his work in the classroom, Fehl said he prepares cadets in the ROTC program for the leader development assessment course and oversees cadets’ field training exercises at Camp Robinson. Cadets participate in the leader development assessment course during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Along with Fehl, 24 other Soldier Heroes were recognized and given the chance to participate in events during the All-American week at no cost to them.

After spending the week in San Antonio, Fehl said the recognition he received was appreciated.

“It was definitely a very humbling experience,” Fehl said. “All the support from the community and everyone down there was overwhelming.”

Fehl said he believed he needed to serve his country. He said both of his grandfathers and two of his brothers served in the military.

Lieutenant colonel Tracy Koivisto is a professor of military science in the ROTC program. Koivisto said Fehl is a big part of the ROTC program at UCA.

“He brings a lot to the table here,” Koivisto said. “He brings experience with him and the cadets know that.”

Koivisto said the cadets recognize what Fehl has done, like other instructors.

“When he talks, they listen,” Koivisto said.

In October 2010, during his time in the Middle East, Fehl was wounded in action in the Tangi Valley area in Afghanistan. His unit, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, was under mortar attack when he was wounded. Fehl received a Purple Heart for his service.

Along with the Purple Heart, Fehl has received many citations and honors, including the Meritorious Service Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge and the Senior Parachutist Badge.

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