By Shelby Shepherd – Staff Writer
It’s been ten years since James “J.J.” Konstant set foot on the St. Ambrose campus. But on Jan. 31 he came back to share his story.
Capt. J.J. Konstant spent a short 45 minutes talking to a group of student athletes about his time in the military.
During his junior year of college Konstant witnessed one of this country’s greatest tragedies, Sept. 11. As soon as it happened, the finance major wanted nothing more than to join the military, but his mom and dad made him finish out his educational career as an Ambrosian first.
“My parents convinced me to finish college before enlisting,” Konstant said. “But at the time I was worried that if I waited there wouldn’t be a war going on still.”
But there was still a war waiting for him after he graduated in 2003. From there Konstant enlisted in the Marine Corps. and was accepted into candidate school. He began his training in October of 2003.
In June of 2005 Konstant shipped out to Afghanistan. While there he was involved in a high profile mission called “Operation Whalers.” This was a military operation used in retaliation to the Navy Seal’s Ambush depicted in the movie “Lone Survivor,” which killed 19 Americans. Konstant received both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his involvement in that mission.
In September 2006 Konstant headed over to Iraq. While he was there, he and his team were the victims of many roadside bombs. Konstant ended up sustaining injuries during an attack resulting in a second Purple Heart.
Konstant finished his commitment with the Marines in 2007 leaving under the title of Captain. Since then he has traveled the country speaking to college students about his time in the military.
“I think that over the last twelve years there’s been a very small number of people that have served the country in the military and I don’t think that college kids always understand how important that is,” Konstant said.
That’s why he tells them his stories. Konstant believes it is important for students to understand the sacrifices being made for them.
“Kids watch a lot of Jackass and stuff like that and think that’s real important,” Konstant said. “And you’ve got guys doing things far more exiting and dangerous than that in the name of God and country.”
When he’s not speaking to students, the former all-academic conference Fighting Bee basketball player works as an investment banker. On Feb.1 the athletic department awarded him the Fighting Bee award.