Augustana Alumni Share Stories of Call to Service

Pictured: Dr. Jacob Quail '05 (left); Janet (Skattum) Hansen ‘67 and John Hansen '68 (right).

Augustana University is grounded in five shared core values: Christian, liberal arts, excellence, community and service. We celebrate all of the ways our students and alumni exemplify these values. 

Here, we share the stories of two alumni who were called to serve in the United States Armed Forces. We honor and give thanks for their service and the service of all of our students, alumni and families who lead and sacrifice for our freedom. God bless you all, today and always.

Dr. Jacob Quail '05

Dr. Jacob Quail ‘05, and his wife Shelby (Eykyn) ‘06, have lived Augustana's core value of service. Jacob and Shelby met at Augustana, while Jacob was pursuing his passion of medicine. His education and a few medical mission trips helped prepare him for his next step, but it was the events of September 11 that helped guide that course. Following medical school, Jacob joined the Navy, and he and Shelby left for stationing and training in San Diego. Jacob, Shelby and their three kids next were stationed in Guam, and finally returned stateside for his last stationing at Camp Pendleton. Quail recently retired from the Navy, and he and Shelby decided to return to the region to raise their family in South Dakota.

What moments as an Augustana student help solidify a desire to serve others?

"Like many, I grew up in a family where service to others was a significant part of life. To that end, one of my most memorable moments at Augustana was on September 11, 2001. I was a freshman starting chemistry lab for the morning at the then Gilbert Science Center. I specifically remember watching the events on the television in one of the chemistry offices and I knew that all our lives had changed, and mine from then on included plans to join the military after college and medical school."

How has Augustana impacted your life and career?

"First and foremost, I met my wife, Shelby, at Augustana where she studied accounting and business administration while also excelling in track, so this had a direct impact on my life!  Moreover, Augustana provided me with a solid undergraduate education in the liberal arts tradition to prepare me for success not only in medical school, but also as a naval officer.  After graduating from Augustana, I could not have been more well-prepared to succeed in my future career."

You chose to enter the Navy after completing medical school. Can you take us through that decision?

"I always wanted to “do something greater” and joining the Navy after completing medical school on a Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) scholarship provided such an opportunity. The Navy had exciting options in the medical field to pursue, while also providing bases in great places where I could train and eventually practice medicine. This was an ideal opportunity that Shelby and I embraced."

Where was your first stationing, and what was that like for you?

"After completing medical school at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Shelby and I moved to San Diego where I completed my surgery residency at the Naval Medical Center San Diego from 2009 to 2015. I had rotated through that hospital twice on rotations during medical school, so both Shelby and I were excited and well-prepared for the new experience. Shelby worked as an accountant in San Diego while I completed my surgery residency, and we were able to start a family as well. All three of our kids were born in San Diego so they will need to get adjusted to the weather here in South Dakota." 

What experiences stand out from your time as a naval surgeon?

"After I completed my surgery residency, my first duty station as a general surgeon was at the naval hospital in Guam, which is a small island in the Pacific Ocean about 6,000 miles from San Diego. This was an absolutely amazing, or as we call It, “Guamazing” experience for our family.  Working at the naval hospital, I was able to work as a general surgeon serving not only the members of our armed forces, but also those civilians living in U.S. territory; this was very special. As a family, we were also able to travel throughout the region, visiting Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Bali, South Korea and Japan!"

How was your life impacted by working alongside men and women who volunteered to serve our country?

"These men and women who have volunteered to serve our country are simply amazing. Many have just graduated from high school, but now are called upon to serve in truly extraordinary ways. They are serving away from home, many are overseas, away from their family and friends. This takes courage and sacrifice — two words that my fifth grader wrote about in a recent veteran essay. When my life needs some motivation, I have to look no further than these men and women who serve our country."

What does it mean to you to be a veteran, and to celebrate Veteran’s Day?

"This will be my first year celebrating Veteran’s Day as a veteran. I’m very proud to have served my country and my wife and children are just as proud to be a veteran family. Being in the military is a team sport for a family. On Veteran’s Day, I’m excited to share my experiences with others but also more excited to be a part of the collective body of veterans that has served this nation."

What would you share with young men and women who are considering the call to serve?

"Serving in the military provides so many great opportunities to see the world, experience life in ways you would never have expected and to serve your country — what an honor! Moreover, there are so many options for those who are called to serve. Serving in the military is only one such option as there are other options available to include serving your community, church or school at the local level or finding other ways to service our nation and world. The call to serve and lead is something I grew up with and was solidified during my time at Augustana and for that, I’m very thankful."

John Hansen '68

John Hansen ‘68 met his wife, Janet (Skattum) Hansen ‘67, while at Augustana, but their post-graduation plans were decided for them. With the Vietnam War happening, and John’s draft number, he knew he would be joining the military shortly after graduation. John chose to enlist in the Army, rather than face the uncertainty of the draft. Like so many Vietnam veterans, his service didn’t bring an outpouring of support by fellow citizens. Following his service, John moved back to his hometown, where he built a successful business, has been very involved in community initiatives, and he has been an advocate for military veterans.  

What have been some moments as an Augustana student or alumnus that have exemplified the Augustana Community?

"The turn out for homecoming/Viking Days every year is amazing. We have no friends who return to their colleges or universities for any football games or reunions like we do. My wife and I remain friends to this day with people we met at Augie and the societies we were a part of."

How has Augustana impacted your life and career?

"As a business major in a school with an outstanding reputation in academics, I was well-prepared for a career in real estate. I ended up owning my own firm in the Omaha area with three offices and more than 50 agents."

You were graduating during the Vietnam War, and were faced with the reality of being drafted or choosing to enlist. Can you describe that time for us?

"At that time, if you were physically fit and did not graduate college in four years, or had below a C average, you were drafted. I chose to volunteer for the draft and went into the U.S. Army in September of ‘68, serving until September of ‘70."

Where was your first assignment, and what was that like for you?

"I was assigned to basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey and then to advanced infantry training there also. From there, I went to Fort Belvoir in Virginia, eventually was stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana. Some of the guys I served with really struggled with this new lifestyle. I tried to maintain a positive attitude which paid off for me. While at Fort Polk, I was married, and our life in the very little town where we lived in the south at that time, was a very different experience for both of us."

Can you tell me about an experience that stands out for you?

"Once on a pass to New York City, we came upon an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, and had eggs thrown at us. We felt very disrespected, a feeling that many Vietnam veterans still talk about to this day."

How was your life impacted by those you served alongside?

"I grew up in a military family so I was familiar with military life, but living it as an adult gave me even more respect for service to our country. Even now, 50 years later, I remain close friends with a guy I met from Michigan, and we talk often about our military experiences."

What did your career look like following your time in the military?

"I spent a short time as an insurance claims adjuster while part time in real estate. Nearly 50 years later, I am still an active real estate broker."

What does it mean to you to be a veteran, and to celebrate Veteran’s Day?

"My father’s last assignment was to Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, where I still live with my wife, children and grandchildren. I have been active in several organizations that support our military for more than 28 years and remain so today. Every year, my oldest son, who was a Marine, my son-in-law, who was in the Army, and I, walk proudly in the Veteran’s Day parade."

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