By Daisy Rodriguez, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.— Dr. Joseph Budd, associate professor of criminal justice at Campbellsville University, remembers the night he arrived at King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia during his time serving in the first Gulf War.
The airport, still under construction, was serving as a U.S. airbase, and Budd was stationed there.
As he was walking around, he got lost. Then suddenly, the air raid sirens went off.
“As the air sirens were going off, I still didn’t register what was going on,” Budd said during the Veterans Day chapel Nov. 10. “I was severely jetlagged, but I soon caught on, as I saw everyone diving for the nearest bunker.”
Huddled in a different bunker than the one he was assigned, Budd realized he wasn’t wearing a gas mask—a potentially fatal mistake given Saddam Hussein’s usage of chemical weapons on his own people. Panic immediately set in for Budd, as he realized his gas mask was sitting on his bed.
He thought about running back for it but decided not to.
“Someone, I have no idea who it was, saw the distress I was in,” Budd said. “They never said a word…They just looked at me, nodded at me, and there was something calming, and I was able to come to terms, if a missile did hit, and chemical agents were in it, I was okay with dying.”
Budd’s life flashed before his eyes, he said.
“Luckily, no missiles hit or came close that night,” he said. “But in my mind, it was the closest thing to death that I’ve ever experienced.”
Budd, who also serves as the program coordinator for the Master’s in Justice Studies program, teaches at the university’s Louisville Education Center.
Budd talked about his struggles with PTSD during last week’s chapel.
“Once I returned home, I found myself jumping out of bed, taking cover on the floor at the sound of sirens or spooked at the sound of large, unexpected booms,” he said. “PTSD is real. But thankfully, I grew out of that as time went on. Unfortunately, many others have not, and they deal with it daily.”
Budd told the story of his return to U.S. soil in Massachusetts following his overseas service. As he was exiting the aircraft, Budd noticed a Vietnam veteran in a wheelchair handing out tickets of some kind.
“I noticed he was a Vietnam vet in a wheelchair who was proudly wearing his Vietnam hat, a leather vest, patches and a flag draped over his wheelchair,” Budd said. “As I took my ticket from him, he grabbed my hand and shook it and said, ‘Thank you for your service.’”
Budd was taken aback, he said.
“I found this odd because he was a veteran, and I should be thanking him,” he said. “I was just actively healing. After all, he was the one in a wheelchair. He paused and his eyes teared up and he looked at me and said ‘Please enjoy this home coming.’ Because he and his fellow soldiers didn’t.”
Budd, a native of Pittsburg, Pa., has been employed at Campbellsville University since fall 2016. Budd joined the United States Air Force in 1987 following graduation from high school.
He was an A-10 attack aircraft mechanic during his time in the Air Force and served in the first Gulf War. He also served three tours in Kuwait as part of Operation Southern Watch.
Budd earned his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga. in 2004. He received his Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Valdosta State in 2005.
Budd lives in Simpsonville, Ky. He has a stepdaughter, Lindsey; two sons, Nicholas and Zachary, and five grandchildren.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of studying including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.