From Afghanistan to New York Via Social

From Afghanistan to New York Via Social

By P. Christopher J. Daigle, Boise State University

Before attending college, the internet and social media helped me to arrive at many destinations. When I was 17, I joined the Army and rotated for two deployments. One was to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan. In between conducting my normal duties of flying UAVs, I was involved in convoy patrols, tower guard, and intelligence analysis. In my off time, I wrote about the experience that I had; playing soccer with children on the streets of Sadr City, flying for more than 12 hours a day, and interacting with locals.
Sharing these experiences with others through social media allowed me to escape to a kinder place than my physical location for moments throughout the day. After 6 years of military service, I took a job as a pilot for a Department Of Defense related company instructing students, performing research and development flights, and conducting flight operations under varied conditions. During my flight school to become Federal Aviation Administration rated pilot, I continued to write and make connections with individuals that showed me different and interesting things.
In one instance, I met a woman who took me all around New York City for three days. She opened her home to me and took time off of work just to share the wonderful city that she called home. Another time, one of the friends I made through social media had become a professional photographer, working in house for Oscar De La Renta. I invited him to my wedding and he gave us wonderful pictures for the price of air faire, hotel, rental car, and lift tickets at Park City.
In my last major encounter with a friend made through social media, I was on my way back from Afghanistan as a civilian and I spent an evening with a friend in Dubai. He picked me up and took me around Dubai to show me wonderful sights and have dinner. We ended up having dinner with one of Facebook’s regional representatives. Over the course of the dinner, I learned so much about the business of social media that I realized I should pursue a career more in line with my interests outside of aviation and defense.
When I finished my last tour in Afghanistan, I left my job and became a full time student. I am majoring in Economics with a Quantitative Emphasis with a minor in Mathematics in hopes of attending a PhD program to work as an economist.

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