We're Not In Oklahoma Anymore
In March of 2004, James Wilhite was teaching Education at a small university in Oklahoma. As a member of the Army Reserve for more than thirty-five years, he had seen and experienced much: Drill Sergeant and competitor in national competitions; holder of a doctorate in school administration from Oklahoma State University; commissioned a Lieutenant eventually reaching the rank of Colonel; and serving as Company Commander, Liaison Officer for the Federal Republic of Germany, Instructor for both the Officer Advance Course and the Command General Staff College, Inspector General, Battalion Commander, and Military Admissions Liaison Officer for the United States Military Academy at West Point.
But one day he opened his mailbox and couldn't believe his eyes.
Jim was called to active duty and ordered to report to Ft. Benning in Georgia. His tour was not to exceed 545 days. Eighteen months. What? You have to be kidding me!
After saying goodbye to his family and colleagues, Jim reported to the Continental United States Redeployment Center (CRC) at Ft. Benning. Weeks later he found himself aboard a C-130 winging its way toward Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan.
Assigned to the Office of Military Cooperation – Afghanistan (OMC-A), Jim soon was given the task of building a university for Afghan students using the model of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Yes, sir, I would love to take that challenge!
It was a challenge that would become a near impossibility.
"You know you don't have any money for this mission." And no full-time staff. And an imposing group of Afghan officials and officers to work with. And a language Jim didn't speak within a culture he didn't understand.
But Jim didn't believe in the impossible…
I have told my students that I felt I was placed on this earth to teach, to make a difference in someone's life regardless of their age. I have always loved teaching, and that is what I believe my calling is.
WE ANSWERED THE CALL tells Jim's story, one of failures and successes and hope in Afghanistan. A story that many have never heard. Until now.