Student Veteran of the Month

Billy Triphahn

Joining the Marine Corps “was a terrific way to travel and challenge myself,” says Billy Triphahn. ­(Photo: Vibhu S. Rangavasan)

By Lauren Newsome —

When Billy Triphahn enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation from high school, he was determined to experience a life outside of his comfort zone.

Billy Triphahn“By my junior year in high school, I knew I wanted to serve in some capacity,” said Triphahn, a senior in criminology, law and justice. “While my peers were filling out college applications, I was contacting recruiters.”

Triphahn served from 2010 to 2014 as an Aviation Ordnanceman stationed in Camp Pendleton, California. His main duty was to handle aviation Class V ammunition, from safety to procurement, storage, buildup, delivery, and subsequent aircraft loading and downloading. Triphahn performed maintenance of aircraft weapons systems, guns, gun pods, bomb racks, missile launchers and aviation ordnance support equipment.

“I was highly encouraged and supported by my family,” he said. “It was a terrific way to travel and challenge myself to complete something I never thought I was capable of.”

From 2012 to 2013, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom RFF-1200. Triphahn achieved the rank of Corporal (E-4) and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Expert Rifleman’s Badge, Expert Pistol Badge, Certificate of Appreciation (4), and Certificate of Commendation (3).

After serving four years, Triphahn returned to Chicago to begin his undergraduate degree in the criminology, law and justice program in 2014.  “I chose UIC because I have always loved Chicago,” he said. “I wanted to be close to my family and had learned from friends about the university’s well-respected criminology program.”

He is the current president of the Student Veterans Association at UIC and served as the organization’s treasurer from 2015 to 2016. He assists student veterans as a PAVE peer advisor and in a VITAL work study position with Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. For his dedication to service in the organization and community, he was awarded the Chancellor’s Student Service Award in 2016 and is nominated for the award again this spring.

Triphahn hopes to serve again through the route of law enforcement. He is working toward that goal by interning with the Cook County Bureau of Intelligence and Investigations-Gang Intelligence Division.

“I hope to be able to travel and have a job that will never make me question if it has a purpose,” he said.

He aspired to return to UIC to obtain a master’s in criminology, law and justice.

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