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Sigma Nu Alumnus Ian Prescott (Oklahoma State) Shares His Story of Service, Honor, and Sacrifice

Written by Chris Codding (Oklahoma State) with assistance from Payton Mullikin (Oklahoma State)

I am honored to introduce one of the most extraordinary people I know, my pledge brother, Ian Prescott. Ian is an alum of the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter at Oklahoma State University. He is married to his college sweetheart, Carrie, and is the proud father of four children: Paiten, Ryan, Aiden, and Jilliann. They live in sunny Crestview, Florida. 

Ian is also a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart Medal. 

In 2006, Ian joined the U.S. Army and what followed was a remarkable fifteen years of service, including five years in the Airborne Infantry and ten years in the elite U.S. Army Special Forces, known as the ‘Green Berets.’ Ian served in five combat tours, three in Afghanistan and two in Iraq, with his units seeing an untold number of engagements and commendations along the way. 

On a December day in 2018, Sergeant First Class Ian Prescott led his team of fellow Green Berets and Afghan Special Operation Forces as part of a lead element on a combat patrol in the Farah Province of western Afghanistan. Amid that patrol, a heavy and prolonged firefight with Taliban forces ensued. During the fight, Ian was leading his team to outflank the enemy positions when a round from an AK-47 struck Ian near his armpit, puncturing his lung, diaphragm, kidney, spleen, pancreas, intestines and shattering the lower part of his spine. Miraculously, Ian would live, but he was paralyzed. What would follow for Ian would be numerous surgeries, months of hospitalization, and countless physical therapy sessions on his long road to recovery. Ian remained determined and in high spirits with his wife and children by his side, and in some instances living in the hospitals and rehabilitation centers with him. For his heroic actions on the day of his paralyzing injury, Ian would later be awarded the distinguished Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart Medal. On the day of his Valor Awards Ceremony with his entire battalion in attendance and with the help of leg braces and his fellow Green Beret teammates, Ian stood to receive his honors.

Sigma Nu is a fraternity built upon a foundation of Honor. Few individuals display such an exemplary level of honor as Brother Prescott. It is something our brotherhood needs to celebrate. Ian’s living example, along with the sacrifices and courage of his family, is something we must pay our highest respect and gratitude toward. We must also pause to listen and learn from veterans like Ian and hear what they have to say. We must let their words better our understanding of veterans’ issues and their actions better our understanding of honor, all to deepen our gratitude as Americans to our revered veterans on this Veteran’s Day. 

Sergeant First Class Ian Prescott recently sat down with Payton Mullikin, an undergraduate member of the Epsilon Epsilon Chapter at Oklahoma State University, to talk about his story through adversity and sacrifice - to shed light on what we can all learn from him as men of Sigma Nu. 

Can you describe your experience in the military? 

“At the time I enlisted, I really didn’t know much about the military, really only what you know as a boy growing up, idolizing G.I Joe, and playing with helicopters and airplanes.” 

“After I went through the enlistment process and graduated basic training, I went to airborne school. From there, I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. While I was there, we deployed to Iraq twice for a total of 27 months. With my first one being 12 months and my second one was 15 months, or the other way around, either way, it totaled 27 months.”  

“After my second deployment, a good number of my platoon decided they were going to try out for Special Forces Assessment and Selection. Knowing that I worked out and ran with these guys, I thought, why not give it a shot too. Out of my platoon, sixteen decided to try out, and out of those, three of us got selected to try out. Out of those three, two earned our Green Berets.”

“You go through about a year and half of testing, training, and courses where you can be cut at any time. After I earned my Green Beret, I was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Our group’s responsibility, aside from Afghanistan, was Latin America; South America, Central America, and the Caribbean.”  

“During my time in the 7th Special Forces Group, I deployed to Afghanistan three times, Columbia twice, and Puerto Rico three times where we would help fight against terrorism and narco-terrorism.”

What are the biggest takeaways from your injury and having to face adversity during your time in service?

“Although a lot of things that suck have happened during my time in the military, and me becoming paralyzed, you have to look at it as one big adventure. Where else in the world and what other profession can you jump out of an airplane in the morning to go and shoot machine guns in the afternoon? How many other people can say that they have gone through a gas chamber or were dropped into the middle of Columbia in a completely foreign country, speaking a completely foreign language, or spent time in Afghanistan training with their forces and dealing with hostiles for weeks on end? 

“If you look back on your time and look at it as an adventure, it helps move forward once you’re done with it. It’s good to focus on the cool memories and fun times, instead of the times that just sucked.”

Do you see any similarities between the values of Sigma Nu and those of the military?     

“Absolutely, there is a pretty solid background between the military and Sigma Nu. You can see it in the ceremonial nature of Sigma Nu. Also, in the mentality to work as a team, which is certainly shared by Sigma Nu and the military. You come together as a group of strangers that don’t know each other necessarily, and especially at Oklahoma State University, with the building of the Homecoming Deck and Frontier Ball, it teaches you how to work as a unit to get things done. You also gain a sense of camaraderie; in fact, a good number of my pledge brothers reached out to me after I got shot, even though I wasn’t able to see or talk to them while I was in the military. That’s the kind of bond Sigma Nu instills in its members.”

What’s a message that you would want to leave on behalf of the veteran community?

“There’s a big misunderstanding of what your military service members do and what they sustain throughout their careers for the good of the country. If you take me for example, out of my 15 years in the military, I was probably home for about 6 or 7 of those years. People don’t realize that sacrifice every service member willingly undertakes. You have service members missing important moments of their lives for the service of the people, and I don’t think that’s understood as well as it should be.” 

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