When Chris Aiken turned 18, his mother gave him three options: get a job, go to school, or enlist. Aiken chose the third. He joined the army and served two tours in Iraq in the military police. During his first tour, he worked in customs. His second was spent in Samarra, where danger and conflicts were constant. (Steve Behr, A long way to Boone)
When faced with the prospect and the financial benefits of a third tour, Aiken went to sleep one night and prayed for guidance. When he woke up, there was a newspaper clipping beside his bed, placed there by his lieutenant, and it told the story of two veterans who went to play football at Florida State. Aiken took this as a sign.
At 6-foot-1 and 310 pounds, Chris Aiken’s size, strength, and athleticism were appealing to Appalachian State University, as was his unique experience of military service. Chris was recruited and played at defensive tackle for App State for his remaining two years of college.
Chris was captain his senior year, and in a Southern Conference Spotlight feature, he said the following of his teammates:
“In the locker room, we use ‘brother-in-arms.’ I told them about situations when I was in Iraq and I spent my birthdays over there. When you got to war, that is your brother- or sister-in-arms, so I let them know every time I step out on the football field, I consider them my brother-in-arms.”
Aiken graduated in 2012 with a degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration. He has worked as a Juvenile Corrections Officer and is currently a Special Education Teacher in Texas.