UCLA Student Spends Summer Freedom Fighting in Libya
It was a summer vacation like no other – filled with explosions, artillery convoys, and freedom fighters.
In the middle of it all is an American college student who chose to spend his summer break in Libya, fighting side-by-side with rebels battling Moammar Qaddafi.
Chris Jeon made headlines around the world as the UCLA student in a Lakers jersey who showed up in a war zone.
"You hear about these people struggling for their freedoms but I mean, what is that really like? You can't really know what it's like unless you're there," Jeon says.
Home video of the liberation of a town in Libya is just one of the amazing scenes Jeon captured as he fought for a month.
The 21-year-old math major from Orange County, California, told his parents he was in Egypt, but incredibly, once he landed he hitchhiked to Libya.
Despite appearing out of place, Jeon says it took just a day to prove to the rebels that he was serious about helping them fight.
"They took me right in the heat of the battle and they would laugh as artillery would blow up all around me and they would come up to my heart and feel my chest pounding and they'd laugh, but they also realized I didn't back down," Jeon says.
They soon showed him how to operate an AK-47.
But amidst all the new experiences, he was most surprised to find out the rebels' favorite performer…Justin Bieber!
Jeon says, "Their favorite was Justin Bieber, they'd show me their phone and they'd have 20, 30 pictures of Justin Bieber on their phone and they're like, 'We love Justin Bieber!' and I was just like, 'Are you guys serious?' "
His wild experience came to an end when a journalist wrote about the college student turned freedom fighter. His parents read about it and frantically reached out to correspondents covering the war.
"They were just like, 'Hey, you know, your parents are worried sick,' " he says.
Jeon is no stranger to adventure. Three years ago he went to Cambodia and lived with orphans. He's also stayed with Indians in the Amazon rainforest.
"I always try to seek very different experiences to learn about these new perspectives," says Jeon.
Jeon is now back at UCLA, with memories of an unforgettable summer vacation.