Columbia University Students Heckle Iraq War Veteran

Columbia University students heckled a war hero during a town hall meeting on whether ROTC should be allowed back on campus, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Some students yelled "Racist!" at Anthony Maschek, a Columbia freshman and former army staff sergeant who was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot 11 times in a firefight in northern Iraq in February 2008.

Maschek, 28, bravely stepped up to the mike Tuesday to issue an impassioned challenge to fellow students on their perceptions of the military.

"It doesn't matter how you feel about the war. It doesn't matter how you feel about fighting," said Maschek. "There are bad men out there plotting to kill you."

Several students laughed and jeered the Idaho native, a 10th Mountain Division infantryman who spent two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington recovering from grievous wounds.

Maschek, who is studying economics, miraculously survived the insurgent attack in Kirkuk. In the hail of gunfire, he broke both legs and suffered wounds to his abdomen, arm and chest. He enrolled in August at the Ivy League school, where an increasingly ugly battle is unfolding over the 42-year military ban there.

More than half of the students who spoke at the meeting -- the second of three hearings on the subject -- expressed opposition to ROTC's return.

The university created a task force to poll 10,000 students on the issue but declined to release the vote tally of the 1,300 who so far responded.

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