History, Politics, Languages and Cultures Department
Growing up in a “big military family” has done a great deal to inform the life choices of Edinboro University student Mackenzie Waterston. Goal-oriented and passionate about history, the 21-year-old has already traveled the world and done exciting work in pursuit of her dream.
“Last summer, I was a part of an archaeological dig on the Island of Saipan, which was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII. I went with a group of researchers and archaeologists looking for 16 missing American soldiers who were a part of the 27th infantry division, which was a New York unit,” Mackenzie explained. “All of these men were killed during the infamous Banzai attack and their bodies lost 70 years ago.”
Mackenzie came upon this opportunity last year while working as an intern at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs. Through the Museum, she met two Japanese researchers from Kuentai-USA, a nonprofit group that searches for war dead, who invited her to take part in the dig.
“I flew 16 hours halfway around the world to this tiny island, which is now today a U.S. commonwealth,” she continued. “This was a great experience and I will be going back in November and hopefully bringing all of the missing soldiers home.”
Mackenzie transferred to Edinboro last year and is working toward two degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Bachelor of Arts in Military History, with a minor in archaeology. The Glens Falls, New York, native also plays lacrosse for the University.
“I chose to come to Edinboro because I came on a recruiting visit and loved the lacrosse girls. Edinboro just seemed like a good fit to me,” Mackenzie said. “I was able to sit in on one of Dr. Spiller’s classes and from there I knew I wanted to go Edinboro.”
This summer, Mackenzie returned as an intern to the New York State Military Museum to continue her pursuit of expertise in military history. She is presently working on an exhibit on the New York State Air National Guard. Her work has included research on “Operation Deep Freeze,” a mission of the 109th Airlift Wing in the Antarctic, and of the “Perfect Storm” mission that the 106th Rescue Wing participated in off of Long Island in 1991. She is also working on a “pioneer section” for the exhibit that will feature early influencers of the New York Air National Guard.
Ultimately, it is Mackenzie’s ambition to become a historical archaeologist.
“My goal is to recover U.S. soldiers that are missing in action from foreign conflicts. This is something that I am extremely passionate about and would like to continue to pursue as a career,” she said. “I want to give closure to the loved ones of these men, who gave their lives fighting for our country as well as bring them home so they can be honored and given a proper burial.”