As we celebrate our nation’s independence this month, we thought it would be appropriate to focus on Junior flanker, Paul Touroonjian, an active serviceman. In addition to being a key member of the starting fifteen as a tough running, tough tackling, high workrate blindside flanker, Paul serves in the 104th Engineering Battalion of the Army National Guard.
Private First Class Touroonjian enlisted in May, 2015 and completed basic training as well as advanced infantryman training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He is currently a combat engineer assigned to a route-clearing platoon and describes the most enjoyable part of his assignment as operating IED-detecting equipment that he describes as being “something like robots from a Stars Wars movie.” For those who have had the pleasure to watch PFC Touroonjian hurl himself into the opposition selflessly on behalf of his team, it is unsurprising he volunteered to undertake such a dangerous assignment.
Paul states that his army training has taught him the importance of each member of a team completing a mission with no room for error. As he puts it, “If we are assigned a route to clear and we miss something, the soldiers who follows us will get injured or die.” He indicates that the same attitude translates well to rugby. “For instance, on defense you’re relying on your teammate to the left and right of you to stay flat and quickly tackle any ball handler coming their way; in doing this the defensive wall is maintained and the offense can’t successfully move the ball down field to score. But the moment defensive players start missing their tackles, or begin losing the discipline to stay low on their hits, the defensive wall shatters. Once the wall shatters, it leaves penetrable spots open for the offense to move the ball down field leading to an eventual score.”
He concludes that his army training has taught him, “to truly comprehend how vital it is for each part in the machine to successfully perform their individual duty, so the entire machine can run properly and succeed.”
In addition to being a hardnosed, punishing player, he is also a humble, dedicated and positive presence on the Rowan Rugby team. PFC Paul Touroonjian is a great credit to his parents, Rowan University and his country.
We thank him and all active service members, as well as veterans, for their service.