Utah native shares his stories from Iraq and Afghanistan

Sep 27, 2013

John Kael Weston worked for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-2010. He is now back in Utah and is writing and speaking publicly about his experiences.
Credit The Daily Beast

A boy from Utah County who went on to work for the U.S. Department of State is back in Utah.

John Kael Weston spent Wednesday and Thursday on the Utah State University campus to talk about his seven years of service in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Weston served with U.S. Marines and several one-to-four star officers in multiple theaters from 2003 to 2010. He was awarded the Secretary of State’s Medal for Heroism for his service.

Weston has since returned to Utah, and he said he spends his time talking to students because of their hopeful outlook on foreign affairs.

“You spend time with people at a higher level and…well-meaning, but there’s an artifice usually to those types of interactions, whereas students are also maybe more hopeful and less cynical about what government can do and what maybe their own careers can add to a better American foreign policy,” Weston said.

Weston has taken to writing after his service. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast and has been featured the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and NPR. He mentioned his experiences in the wars and how they focus his writing.

“That’s what I’m trying to get to in some of my own writing, that we need to acknowledge (prisoner torture and abuse at) Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the negative things that have come out of these wars," Weston said.

"But at the end of the day, the most enduring thing about the American experience is that we are a nation of immigrants," he said. "We are a nation of a Supreme Court case which said 'United States of America v. Richard Nixon,' and how many governments around the world can say that we have a system that allows a Supreme Court to decide when your president is wrong?”

Weston is writing a book about his experience that is set to be published in 2015.

Eric is from Las Vegas, Nevada and studies broadcast journalism at Utah State. In joining the Utah Public Radio family, he has now delved into each of the "Big Three" of journalism: print, television and radio. His dream is to someday live and report the news in Chicago, Illinois (or wherever his career takes him.) In addition to reporting for UPR, Eric is the copy editor at the Utah Statesman and contributes to Aggie TV News.