Triton College Salutes our Veteran Heroes

We are grateful to all Veterans for their selfless service and sacrifice to our Nation. Triton College salutes their patriotism and are honoring our own Veterans throughout the month of November.

Triton College Military Veterans

Tracy Jennings
Tracy Jennings
Triton College Board of Trustees
Branch: US Army
Service: 3 Years
Rank: Specialist

Tracy Jennings of Westchester, Triton College’s Board of Trustees secretary, served in the U.S. Army for three years (E-4). 

After graduating high school in 1986, Jennings felt a civic duty to join the United States Army.

His permanent duty station was the 101st Airborne Division Fort in Campbell, Ky. He was assigned to the 5th of the 101st Aviation Unit, where he was the petroleum supply specialist. Jennings served three years active duty from 1986-1989.

While on active duty, the secretary of the Army awarded Jennings the Army Achievement Medal. This honor was given to him for his ability to motivate and lead within the 5th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment of the United States Army.

As a public servant, Jennings has worked for the state of Illinois as a public service administrator (PSA) from 2013-2018. He held the title of PSA in three state agencies: The Department of Human Services, The Department of Children and Family Services Legal Division and The Department of Employment Security. He’s also a trustee for the village of Westchester.

As for Triton College, Jennings was elected to the board of trustees in April 2021 and has been secretary since April 2022. He noted that everyone in his family has taken classes at Triton College and feels it is a great place to learn.

In October 2021, Jennings returned to Illinois as a senior public service administrator for the DCFS Legal Division.

Jennings is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and DeVry University. 

David Anderson
Computer Information Systems
Branch: US Army
Service: 22 Years
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel (O-5)
I wanted to join the military because my college ROTC Program would pay for my undergraduate degree. I found this appealing because I could avoid student debt and I would have a guaranteed job in Europe waiting for me after I finished.

My unit was ranked No. 2 in maintenance operation excellence in the USA and No. 1 overall in the division. I was the chief military history instructor at the U.S. Army Armor School at Ft. Knox. I helped with the Gulf War I and the refugees afterwards. I was awarded the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal.

This experience helped me grow up immensely. I saw the world, received paid training (Airborne, Ranger, digital technology, and computing) and learned a lot of good work experience. I learned a lot about team accomplishment and achievement, as well as being thankful for being born in the U.S. I learned about the value and power of education and “opportunity cost” – the value of time applied to accomplishing goals instead of being idle.

At Triton College, I am a full-time tenured professor in the CIS Department. I’ve been at Triton since 2001.

Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly recognize the contributions of living veterans and to show appreciation towards them. It’s not about free meals, discounts, tributes and platitude. This is a time to truly show veterans our appreciation to those who have been willing to put themselves at risk for our freedoms. 
Flavio Cipriani
Continuing Education
Branch: US Army
Service: 2 Years
Rank: Sergeant/Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (E-5)

I was drafted in 1970 during the Vietnam War. I was deployed to South Korean for a year where a cold war was going on. The U.S. troops were in South Korea at the DMZ (demilitarized zone) to try to stop the North Korean Army from entering South Korea. I was in the First/Seventy-third Armor Division.

After a few months I was reassigned to be a chaplain’s assistant and I provided transportation for the chaplain. We went to several surrounding villages to improve the relationship between the U.S. soldiers and the Korean people. I worked at the St. Barbara Orphanage to improve their living situation. I helped at the (non-contagious) leprosy colony.

I believe that the military helped me become a better person and gain respect for all people. For me, Veterans Day means freedom for American people.

After my service in the U.S. Army, the government helped me finish college by paying my tuition. I graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in secondary education.

At Triton College, I currently teach Italian I, Italian II and Conversational Italian for the Continuing Education curriculum. 
John Cody
Certified Medical Assistant
Branch: US Navy
Service: 6 Years
Rank: Hospital Corpman/Petty Officier Second Class (E-5)
Robert Connor
Robert Connor
Branch: US Army
Service: 20 Years
Rank: Major (O-4)

I wanted to join the Army because my father was a professional Army officer.

I traveled a lot growing up since my father was stationed at various Army posts around the country. My oldest brother went to United States Military Academy West Point and my other brother was an Army lawyer. I became a professional infantry officer.

When I was retired after 20 years of service, I earned a master’s degree in library science.

I’m currently a librarian at Triton College. 

Ernest Davis
Ernest Davis
Business & Technology/
Hospitality Industry Administration

Branch: US Army
Service: 2 Years
Rank: Private First Class (E-3)

When I was growing up, there was a draft. Due to the draft, I decided to sign up for the military on my own so I could pick where I wanted to be placed.

After high school, I wanted to go into special forces. I was in the Vietnam War. It was very rough coming home because the war was traumatic.

At Triton College, I’m an assistant professor. I teach math and science. Teaching math and science was something that I thought I wanted to do years ago, but I never got into it. I love teaching at Triton.
James Malarski
James Malarski
Adult Basic Education
Branch: US Army &
              US Army Reserve
Service: 27 Years (Viet Nam/Desert Shield/
               Desert Storm)
Rank: Command Sergeant Major (E-9)

When I joined the military, it was right in the middle of the Vietnam War. I wasn’t drafted -- I felt a duty to join. During my time serving, we were fighting in the jungle every day.

When I came back from the war, I joined my brother’s business as a partner. Due to my military background, I was asked by the government to teach at an alternative high school. I taught high school on the west side of Chicago for 10 years.

I’ve been teaching at Triton College for 20 years in the Adult Education Program.

Deborah Padgett
Branch: US Army
Service: 8 Years
Rank: Staff Sergeant (E-6)
Antigone Sharris
Antigone Sharris
Engineering Technology
Branch: US Army Reserve
Service: 12 Years
Rank: Private First Class (E-3)

I wanted to serve in the military because my family has served. My father served in World War II and my mom survived World War II. My uncle was in the Greek Navy.

When I was in high school, I was in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). I really enjoyed it. So, I decided to join the Army Reserve. I was 71L, admin specialist, during a time when computers were becoming more important. I was setting up the computers during my weekends with my unit, skills which relate to what I do now.

I’ve been teaching at Triton College for 24 years in engineering technology, welding, CAD and everything in between.

Robert Tapia
Robert Tapia

Behavioral Science
Branch: US Marine Corps
Service: 3 Years
Rank: Corporal (E-4)
I registered for the military draft when I turned 18. My mother was worried that I would have to go to Vietnam, so she sent me to Mexico City to avoid the war. After two years living in Mexico City, I decided to return to the United States because my younger brother was almost 18. He would have to enlist and possibly go to Vietnam. If something happened to him, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. So, I came back to the United States and joined the Marines.

I ended up fighting in the Vietnam War. I served twice in Vietnam. It was a traumatic experience.

After returning from the war, I was disoriented. To cope, I started reading and studying philosophy. 

Today, I have a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I have been teaching at Triton College for six years. I like working with college students because I enjoy helping them. I try giving disoriented students guidance through philosophy.  
R. Lance Wilson
R. Lance Wilson

Branch: US Army
Service: 3 Years
Rank: Corporal (E-4)
When I got out of the military, I wanted to be a police officer. I worked my way up the ladder at a police department until I became a sergeant.

After a few years, I decided to leave policing and go to medical school. I became a cardiologist. I’m currently a retired cardiologist and teach classes at Triton College.

I’ve been teaching at Triton for 21 years. 


Triton College thanks each and every one of you for your service to our country.

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History of Veterans Day

The origins of Veterans Day began in 1918. Although World War I officially ended on June 18, 1919, the fighting ceased seven months prior, with an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany going into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Therefore, November 11, 1918, was viewed as the end of World War I, or “the war to end all wars” according to

Veterans Day is a federal holiday to honor and remember all American war veterans. Observed on November 11, Veterans Day commemorates those who served and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

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