J-School student and U.S. Army National Guard Sergeant Casey Mossholder had a very special homecoming this week.
Mossholder arrived back in East Lansing late Sunday night after a year-long tour in Iraq, just in time to watch her nephew play in his middle school football game on Wednesday in Grand Ledge.
Mossholder continued taking classes this semester while finishing her time in Iraq, then for two weeks in Fort Hood as she quarantined after returning to the United States.
Her job in Iraq was an 15N Avionics Mechanic for UH-60 Blackhawks and CH-47 Chinooks. She does electrical repairs for and performs maintenance on helicopters. This is helping her toward her goal of flying helicopters for the Army.
"The best thing that I gained from it is a huge change in perspective," Mossholder said of her year-long tour in Iraq. "You gain so much perspective and meet people from all around the world."
She also learned how to navigate difficult situations while keeping the mission first.
"I worked with people from so many different countries and contractors from Iraq. It's just eye-opening and a very different experience," Mossholder said. "You have one mission and that's all you really do."
Mossholder grew up in mid-Michigan but lived in California during part of her high school years, and at one time aspired to attend an art school there. But once realizing that wasn't quite for her, she explored the military and discovered her new path.
Mossholder's cousin helped her navigate the waters of determining which branch of the military to enter. She also had to overcome initial feelings of being intimidated about the enormity of the challenge she was embarking upon.
"I almost immediately fell in love with it. Being in basic training, most people would say they never want to do that again, but I thought it was fun. I would do it again," Mossholder said. "From there, it was, 'How do I make this a career?' "
After considering several options, including ROTC, Mossholder determined she really wanted to fly more, be out on the airfield, and work toward becoming a Maintenance Test Pilot.
After becoming a skilled runner, when it was time to enroll in college, Mossholder entered Lansing Community College on scholarship in the fall of 2016 and joined their cross-country team.
She stood out so much that soon, after winning a national tournament, MSU's coaches discovered her, opening the door to her becoming a Spartan in 2017.
Now that Mossholder is back in East Lansing, she will continue pursuing her love of running with the MSU track team, where she looks forward to finishing her final season in the spring.
As for choosing journalism as a major with a concentration in Media Design, Mossholder chose it to balance her interest in aviation, and have a second skillset to fall back on if her military path doesn't work out. Mossholder's interest in journalism was sparked by her work on the school newspaper at Okemos High School and her teacher, Laura Ross.
Mossholder aspires to become a warrant officer in flight school in Alabama after graduating next summer and is preparing her flight packet to do so. Her end goal is to be able to fly the Blackhawk, Chinook or Apache helicopters.
Mossholder says MSU has had her back as she pursues these dreams. "MSU has been extremely supportive of everything I've done this past year, especially my academic advisors, professors and coaches," Mossholder said. "I am just really grateful to be a Spartan."