Editor’s note: This is a letter from former aviation professor James Green.
On 9/11, I wrote to my Aviation Science online class of 27 students to tell them about my experience of being an airline pilot and living in New York City on that historic day.
I personally witnessed the worst attack on American soil in the history of our nation. My Wife and I watched from the roof of our building as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. And for the next 2 days we aided with housing and accommodations for many of the shocked people displaced from lower Manhattan.
We also tried to comfort those who had lost loved ones in the attack.
It was sobering and sad to say the least.
I also found out the Captain of the American Airlines flight that had crashed into the Pentagon was a good friend of mine. Captain Chick Burlingame and I had been Navy buddies in the same squadron during our military service. I knew him well.
Having been a Naval Officer and Jet Attack Aviator who had flown off of Aircraft Carriers and served for 7 years during and after the Vietnam War, I swore an Oath to support and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.
I was saddened that some people in the world hate our country so much that they would do something as horrific as this. So I began a study to find out why.
I learned a lot about radical Islam and the origin of their hatred. It is unfortunate that some people had been so brainwashed that they were duped into perpetrating violence against the West (primarily the USA), such as that on 9/11.
In posting an announcement, only to my class of 27 students, and feeling the emotion of the 9/11 events, I did say we should not allow Muslims to immigrate to America. They can’t be properly vetted to sort the good from the bad, and some pose an actual threat to our people, our loved ones. That protects us from potential enemies and possible danger.
Then realizing that students “just don’t read” course announcements, I thought I would send them an email through the course, because this was a timely subject. When I wrote that message it was the same except I left off the part about Muslim immigration at the end.
That’s what they received from me. I didn’t need to write anything at all, but I did it (going the extra mile) because I felt it would be interesting and beneficial to them.
I had intended to go back and delete the announcement since it was no longer necessary because I had emailed them. But I got distracted & forgot to do that.
Student Derrek Studebaker apparently did read the announcement and decided it was his duty to report me to the university authorities, which he did.
I heard about it that same day. And I didn’t want the university to have to take a hit for my honestly expressed, personal, and heart-felt feelings. So I resigned. I didn’t have to, but I did it voluntarily.
I have taught at UVU for 11 years, became tenured in 2014, was even Department Chairman for a year, and I won an award for some aspect of Teaching Excellence every 3 years… even being selected as “Educator of the Year” for our entire college. That award is granted to the Professor who is the most liked as determined by student surveys.
My SRIs (student reviews) have consistently been among the highest in our department.
My students have loved me. I have helped many of them get scholarships, internships, and jobs… writing many, many Letters of Recommendation, and encouraging them to excel.
There are presently “many upset students” because I will not be their instructor any longer.
With my real-life experience (7 years military & 26 years as an Airline Pilot), I offered a perspective that was not only valuable to our students but fun for them to hear of my challenges, risks, accomplishments, and stories. That was a great motivator for them to try and achieve themselves. And many of them have already risen to high levels of accomplishment. I am very proud of them!
After I retired from the airline and teaching in Shanghai, China for a year, I didn’t need this job, but took it as a service to young people and to the university. The pay was so low, I considered it voluntary community service. But I did it willingly to help out and it was rewarding for me.
I am now 71 years old and have had a wonderfully fulfilling life. The last chapter of which has been as a part of the great Utah Valley University family, which I will always cherish with fond memories.
It is unfortunate indeed that one student’s action caused the university to lose one of the best Professors it has ever had. I hope he can live with that.
That is my side of the story. Thanks for asking.
Captain Jim Green
Former US Navy
Retired United Airlines
& Former UVU Adjunct Associate Professor
Editor in Chief and life-long student