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Postcards From A Postgraduate

Brother Jesse Greaves Explores the USA and the World

by Kathy Jonas
Indiana University, ‘78

Jesse, fifth from top right, with his Chapter back in 2015.

As an astronautical engineer, Jesse Greaves (RPI, ‘18) will be focused on the space above, but the last few years have given him the opportunity to appreciate the ground below.

Realizing he might not have a break for quite a long time, the recent graduate of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, embarked on a journey that would take him across the United States and Europe prior to classes starting at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is working on a Ph.D. Eventually he wants to work for a large space company and then become a professor.

In December, after completing a co-op at the MIT Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, he flew out to Los Angeles to visit a friend who was working at a NASA jet propulsion lab, and they started a road trip across the United States. The two of them would later go on to backpack across Europe following graduation.

“I traveled some as a kid, but this was so much fun,” says Greaves. “Seeing new cultures and experiencing new landscapes are awe inspiring.”

As a collegiate brother, Greaves said he joined the fraternity in his sophomore year after leaving the lacrosse team. He says the team did not provide the exploration and variety he was looking for in college in order to expand his horizons. The fraternity provided those opportunities.

At Phi Kappa Theta, he became the Chapter’s scholarship chair and then served as Vice President of Operations, maintaining the house by waxing floors, painting and making sure the property was kept in good shape. “It was a stressful year of my life, but the house gave so much to me; I had to give back to the house.” Through a brother, he was able to apply for the internship at the Lincoln Lab.

“I fit in with Phi Kap because it was the friendliest, most personable place,” he says. “We support each other. No matter what anyone gets into, we have each other’s back.”

As someone who skied before he walked, Greaves, 23, enjoys hiking, ice climbing, white water rafting, rock climbing and photography, so travel was a natural thing for him.

A few of Jesse’s travel tips (he has a lot more):

  • Watch a sunset in Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah, which Greaves says is more impressive than the Grand Canyon with canyon after canyon after canyon created by the Colorado River. Sunset at Zion National Park in Utah is also gorgeous

  • Go to the WWII Museum in New Orleans

  • Drink real absinthe in Barcelona. The strong, licorice-tasting drink is sipped after putting cubes of sugar on a fork, squirting water on the sugar to dissolve it in the drink and partaking in the famous concoction as did Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh

  • Try to find the hidden architectural pieces in Prague, a city that Greaves found surprisingly vibrant and exciting

  • Listen to Mozart in a small church in Vienna

  • Go ahead and indulge in the pasta and pizza in Italy and Rome in particular. It’s a nice ubiquitous, inexpensive treat following a visit to the Vatican and the spectacular St. Peter’s Basilica, which he called the most awe-inspiring cathedral, with Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia Basilica (slated to be finished in 2026 after 144 years in the making) the most artistic and impressive

  • Cliff diving in Naples on the Amalfi Coast. What better way to end a trip?

Main Image: Brother Jesse Greaves (RPI, ‘18) enjoying the view of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The Long Road Home

Remains of Phi Kap Fighter Pilot Laid To Rest After Fifty Years

by Gene Ney
Slippery Rock University, ‘90

U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65).

U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65).

It was on St. Patrick’s Day of 1969 that David Thomas Dinan, III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65) lost his life serving our country in the Vietnam war. A native of Nutley, New Jersey, David was born in January of 1944. He was educated and graduated from Seton Hall Prep in 1961. According to his brother Charles, who currently resides in McMurray, Pennsylvania, “he was both athletic and intelligent.” David excelled in science, and, following his graduation from Seton Hall Prep, he applied and was accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at M.I.T., he majored in Physics.

As a young student at M.I.T., David attended a rush event at the Phi Kappa Theta chapter on his campus which was chartered in 1919. According to one of his brothers, Frank Russo ‘64, “Dave was a quiet, thoughtful, solid, sober, devout young Catholic man, perhaps more so than the rest of us.” An outstanding student, and a loyal brother, David graduated from M.I.T. and enlisted in the Air Force in 1966.

Just as he had excelled in school, athletics and the fraternity, David quickly rose within the ranks of the Air Force. He became a First Lieutenant and was awarded two medals. Those medals were the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered serving our country. He was a member of the 34th Tactical Fighting Squadron.

On that very fateful day, March 17, 1969, David and another pilot were on a mission flying over northern Laos. His F-105 had been hit by an enemy attack, and he radioed in a distress message. To avoid a crash, he ejected himself from the plane with his parachute which landed in trees in a remote area. Unfortunately, the parachute tore on tree limbs and David tragically dropped to his death on the jungle floor. His plane subsequently crashed and burned.

A search and rescue team arrived, found the wreckage, the parachute and David’s remains, but had to evacuate given enemy fire. Unfortunately, neither David’s body, or any of the debris from the wreckage were ever recovered. As a man of 25, who was engaged to be married, this was an extremely tragic way to die. According to his brother Charles, “We anticipated his remains to be returned a week or two after he went down,” but that never happened.

Retired Col. Ed Sykes, one of David’s roommates at the Korat Royal Air Force Base in Thailand, and David’s biological brothers began lobbying for his remains to be located and returned for proper burial. Through their efforts and those of Leland Sorenson, who was a member of the original search and rescue mission who had identified the remains back in 1969, the group returned to Laos in March of 2014, 45 years after David’s plane crashed and burned. On the third day of their mission near Ban Khap in the Xiangkoang Province, they discovered David’s plastic identification card. In June of 2016, an excavating crew was sent to the area where they collected his remains which were positively identified on August 7, 2017.

David’s remains were flown from Laos to Hawaii, and then to Washington, D.C., where he was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on April 25th of this year. David was one of 600 Americans who disappeared or were lost during the Vietnam War in Laos. A total of 1,597 Americans are still unaccounted for from that war.

According to Frank Russo ’64, “When I heard that David had been killed over there, my initial reaction was of great sadness, that such a good and gentle soul, with so many gifts, should have been lost in such a place.” David now rests in peace at Arlington National Cemetery with many other Phi Kaps including our late President, John F. Kennedy.

Main Image: Above: The remains of U.S. Air Force pilot David T. Dinan III (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘65), of Nutley, killed in the Vietnam War, proceed through Arlington National Cemetery on April 25, 2018.

A Part of Something Bigger

Brother Ali Soufan Receives Phi Kappa Theta’s 2018 John F. Kennedy Award

by Matthew R. Miller
University of Nebraska, ‘12

Brother Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94) during a Q&A at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL ).

Brother Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94) during a Q&A at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL ).

Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94) applied to the FBI on a dare.

“When I joined the Bureau I didn’t think in a million years I’d be an FBI agent,” he said. “Literally it was a bet with fraternity brothers. Most of the guys in my fraternity were in law enforcement and ROTC. It was a joke to see if I would last in the application process. Actually I bet against myself.”

But Soufan did last. Over the next decade he was involved in a number of high-profile anti-terrorism cases around the world and has been described as the person who came closest to preventing the attacks of September 11, 2001. He has published two books, Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of Bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State and The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda. A recent Hulu miniseries, The Looming Tower, is based on his time in the FBI. Soufan is now CEO of The Soufan Group and founder of The Soufan Center – a “nonprofit organization dedicated to serving as a resource and forum for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue related to global security issues and emergent threats.”

Mr. Soufan is also the most recent recipient of Phi Kappa Theta’s John F. Kennedy Award – given to brothers who have thrived in their professional careers and who inspire others to live lives of service of others, improving the world around them.

In his acceptance speech Soufan noted John F. Kennedy once said leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Soufan explained leadership isn’t about words and lectures but about action and attitude. Those actions and attitudes are themselves shaped by our experiences and our values – which is why his time in Phi Kappa Theta was so valuable.

“When I joined Phi Kaps, like I think most of you, I joined for the fun, for the parties, but then I realized it was way more than that,” he said. “It meant something to me to be something bigger than I am, and I’m very honored for that and will always be honored to be a brother of Phi Kappa Theta.”

The values he first felt full force in college – loyalty, trust, sacrifice friendship were things he said were vital to his work in counter-terrorism and the FBI.

“Many of my colleagues who were with me in places like Yemen and Afghanistan, the streets of the Middle East or north Africa, a lot of these guys we developed our own kind of brotherhood but it’s all based on my experience that I had before in college.”

Soufan believes many people today still see that stereotypical fraternity life of parties and mindless fun, but a deeper, honest look reveals the values Phi Kappa Theta possesses, values that can and will stay with a person forever if they take them seriously.

That’s a theme Soufan keeps returning to – the time a young man spends in college does not exist in isolation from the rest of his life. Phi Kappa Theta was so important for Soufan and can be for others because it’s a framework during a foundational time. The choices made, values acquired, the people one allows themselves to be shaped by, are all building towards a future life.

“The values of loyalty, friendship, courage, fortitude, love, faith - these things nobody can take away from you,” he said. “These things won’t stop the moment you graduate and you leave for real life. These values will continue with you. They continued with me through my professional life… These values are the true test of brotherhood and these values are the true test of leadership and these things will continue with us forever.”

Soufan said Phi Kappa Theta made his college experience far richer than it otherwise would have been. He was shaped, and continues to be shaped, by his college and especially his fraternal experience. It’s taken him where he is today and has given him the foundation to persevere when he needed to the most.

“If you have the brotherhood and the loyalty and sacrifice and you put them with these other values, I think you’ll be on a very strong personal and moral ground to fight and stand up against any difficulties in life,” he said.

Main Image: The 2018 John F. Kennedy Award recipient, Brother Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94), speaking with brothers at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL this past August.

Watch Brother Soufan’s speech from IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL:

History And Lessons Along The Way

by Kyle Bueno
Bridgwater State University, ‘18

Brotherhood (n): An association, society, or community of people linked by a common interest, religion, or trade.

Phi Kappa Theta – Love, Brotherhood, God.

Brother Kyle Bueno (Bridgewater State University, ‘18) (center).

Brother Kyle Bueno (Bridgewater State University, ‘18) (center).

Those were the three words that united myself and my brothers together to form this brotherhood. As I write this on the 5:57pm commuter train out of South Station, Boston, MA, and heading to Middleborough/Lakeville, I begin to reflect on the good, the bad, and ugly times from my chapter. I am fortunate enough to have ended my collegiate experience on a good note and kept the faith for better days ahead.

The experiences I am about to write to you all have helped shaped me into the man I am today. It has made me realize I need these traits in order to not only be a good brother, but a gentleman. Honesty (even if it may sting), Integrity, Loyalty, Respect, and Compassion.

I begin the journey of my Greek Life experience as a second semester freshman. At first, I was hesitant about seeing what other fraternities had to even offer as I was thinking about how the movie Animal House depicted all Greek members as 24/7 partiers. That was not the college experience I wanted to have. But, nevertheless, my best friend from high school Jacob Bolarinho (past sage of Sigma Pi), encouraged me to join him and keep an open mind. So, I did, and I am beyond grateful to take that giant step out of my comfort zone.

Now, not to say the other organizations weren’t welcoming, because I have some amazing friends from other fraternities, but I felt more included in Phi Kappa Theta because the men whom recruited me were involved in various facets of campus; from Student Government Association, to Residence Life and Housing, to even working on campus. I wanted to be involved as much as possible. To this day, I do not regret my decision to join this amazing organization.

Kyle Bueno helping build a house in Connecticut. Spring 2017.

Kyle Bueno helping build a house in Connecticut. Spring 2017.

At my first chapter, I was feeling mixed emotions. I was so excited for the unknown, but nervous as hell, praying I wouldn’t get hazed or see anything like Animal House. I let those fears subside and looked for ways as a new member to get involved. I knew I always had an interest in service, so I ran for Community Service Chair and won the position. In hindsight, I couldn’t even imagine seeing that position springboard me into serving as Vice President of Social Development and later on as President.

Serving as Community Service Chair for the chapter had in no way prepared me for what was to come as Vice President of Social Development. It is still known as one of the biggest positions in the chapter as it oversees Philanthropy, Social, Community Service, Public Relations, and Risk Management. Yes, Risk Management. When I started, I had no idea how to talk to brothers who would do things that broke FIPG rules. One of the biggest areas needing improvement was social media.

Our social media was so horrendous that it became a mini part of a larger conversation we had as a chapter at Fireside. Which, as a second year, I absolutely regretted. Up till Junior year, our Fireside events would always be viewed as shouting matches between brothers. It would bring our morale way down and I mean, waaaay down. I realized a central part of what was missing was brothers understanding each other. We needed to speak with each other as brothers, not as Presidents or Vice Presidents, just brothers. It was at this point I realized Phi Kap wasn’t what was told to me at recruitment, but I wanted to do something about changing it.

I would be lying to you if I only wrote about all the good times I had as President of this organization. There were really tough moments I, and brothers on the E-board serving alongside me, had to experience. I also was working as a Resident Assistant, part-time at the information desk and serving as Student Trustee. It was a lot on my plate, making me realize the importance of self-care (which I’ll explain later). But I am proud of the work our chapter made in making it better than in years past.

We were able to fill our calendar with an abundance of events from brotherhood, to philanthropy, and socials. We even made Fireside enjoyable. However, I came to a point during my tenure when I wanted to just give up. It was during the summer before entering my senior year where we were going to hold our annual Quo Vadis retreat. During that planned day, a torrential downpour hit our campsite and I decided to cancel the event altogether. The next day, however, turned out to be amazing outside; sunny and hot. I was so disappointed with myself because I felt I let the chapter down.

So, I did not realize how my careless attitude brought negative energy towards the chapter. Morale was low, brothers were forming clichés, rumors were even spreading. In order to help tackle this, with the help of Executive Vice President, Robert Riggs, CAE (RPI, ’02), we decided to create an in chapter brotherhood event. We set up chairs in a circle and talked to each other about our feelings, aspirations in life, etc.

Brother Kyle Bueno (Bridgewater State University, ‘18) participates in the interactive storytelling/portrait shoot project to unify his campus. Spring 2017.

Brother Kyle Bueno (Bridgewater State University, ‘18) participates in the interactive storytelling/portrait shoot project to unify his campus. Spring 2017.

It was at this moment I felt I needed to get something off my chest and explain what was on my mind. I felt comfortable enough to come out to the chapter. It was the first time I ever spoke about it to anyone. It was because of this constant weight, and the other positions I had on campus, I did not have time to reflect on my own life. It was so nice to just take it off my chest and what was going on in my mind.

I learned a big part of leading is being honest with myself, to others around me, and having integrity. It was because of this, I, alongside the E-board, noticed a change and carried through strong towards the end of the semester.

Some people may ask themselves, “is there anything I would have done differently in college”? For me, the answer is no. It was because of all these experiences during my 4 years at Bridgewater State University, I am the person I am today. I realized I am a better friend, person, and brother because of the experiences I have dealt with and, in return, volunteer my time back as a Performance Coach for chapters in the Northeast.

I realized how important it is to not stretch yourself too thin and to stay humble. For those reading, I hope you too can love yourself as much as I can, are loyal to your brothers, friends, and family, and lead as REAL gentlemen should, with honesty and integrity. TBIS.

Main Image: Kyle Bueno during a service project to Cambodia. Spring 2018.