Washington and Lee Commemorates Veterans Day The Washington and Lee community gathered on Friday, Nov. 11 to honor the military service of current and retired members of the staff, faculty and student body.
At Washington and Lee’s annual commemoration of Veterans Day, held this year on Friday, Nov. 11, current and retired members of the staff, faculty and student body who have served in the military gathered to honor fellow service members.
Due to inclement weather, President Dudley welcomed the group to Lee House for the remembrance and a reception. The event was coordinated by Paul Youngman, associate provost and Redenbaugh Professor of German, and Mark Fontenot, fire and life safety systems technician in Facilities Management, who also oversee an employee resource group for veterans. Youngman introduced the event’s invited speaker, retired U.S. Army Colonel Ricky Jerome Nussio. Nussio, who served with Youngman at various points throughout their careers in the U.S. Army, gave remarks reflecting on Veterans Day and thanking those in attendance for their service. After Nussio’s remarks, there was a closing prayer led by Fontenot and a reception for the veterans.
The veterans in attendance included current and retired members of the W&L staff and faculty, as well as students currently participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC):
- Buddy Atkins ’68, retired director of Donor Relations, voluntarily joined the U.S. Navy in 1968 and was later assigned to a destroyer, USS Lowry DD-770. When his active-duty obligation expired, he left active duty as a lieutenant (select), then served 23 more years in the Navy Reserve. He retired as a commander.
- Jerry Clark, a plumber in Facilities Management, was in the U.S. Army’s 23rd Battalion, serving in Hanau, Germany, between 1970-72. He was a Specialist E-4.
- Mark Fontenot, who works in fire and life safety in Facilities Management, served in the Virginia Air National Guard for 21 years, from 1987 until retiring in 2008 as an E-7. He was based in Richmond for 18 years and finished his enlistment at Langley Air Force Base. His job title was an aircraft maintenance technician crew chief. In his 21 years of service, he worked on aircraft such as A-7, F-16 and F-22.
- Paul Youngman ’87, associate provost and Redenbaugh Professor of German, served in the U.S. Army from 1987-93. He was stationed in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He separated as captain of the 82nd Airborne. He is a holder of the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor in a combat zone.
- Ted Hickman, assistant director of Facility Services, served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam.
- Dick Kuettner, director of the Global Discovery Laboratories, was in the U.S. Army from 1970-75. He served in intelligence collections in Germany and Vietnam and was awarded a Bronze Star.
- Laurie Lipscomb, who is retired from the Communications Office, served in the U.S. Navy and left for Vietnam on the evening of his 21st birthday. He served in the I Corps Tactical Zone (Northern Vietnam). He came home in late 1969.
- Jeff Knudson, senior technology architect for Information Technology Services (ITS), served in the U.S. Navy for five years during the Cold War under the Reagan and Bush administrations.
- Julie Knudson, who is director of academic technologies in ITS, served six years as a law enforcement specialist in the Air National Guard.
- Donald Gaylord, research archaeologist and instructor, was a nuclear reactor operator in the U.S. Navy on the fast-attack submarine USS Key West (SNN-722) out of Norfolk, Virginia. He served for six years of active duty and was an Electronics Technician Second Class: ET2 (SS).
- Chrissy Van Assendelft, a technology integration specialist in ITS, served in the U.S. Army, leaving for basic training on her preassigned date of Sept. 12, 2001. She served as a linguist in Korea and, after suffering frostbite, did indoor duty as a tax preparer. She later deployed to Iraq with 2nd Division, 101st Airborne, and was discharged on Christmas Eve 2006.
- Jeff Thomas, network infrastructure specialist in ITS, served as an ammunition specialist in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- Mike Hill, an electrical supervisor in Facilities Management, served six years of active duty and two years of reserve duty in the U.S. Marine Corps.
- Gavin Fox, associate professor of business administration, spent two years in the U.S. Army in active duty and eight years in the Army Reserves.
- Bob Strong, a professor in the Politics Department, was a U.S. Navy officer from 1971-75, serving off the coast of Vietnam and later as a tender in Charleston, South Carolina.
- Dale Lyle, who retired from Facilities Management after 29 years, served in the U.S. Army from 1978-1981 as a breaker operator and ammunitions specialist.
- Aly Colon, the Knight Professor of Ethics in Journalism, served in the U.S. Army for two years.
- Carola Tanna, spouse of President Will Dudley, served in active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps from 1996-2002 at the National Naval Medical Center and Great Lakes Naval Station.
- Jeff Rutter, director of University Counseling, served as an active duty military psychologist in the U.S. Air Force.
- Griffin Conti ’26 is a current member of ROTC.
- Carey Camp ’25 is a current member of ROTC.
- John Cataldi, visiting assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, served in the U.S. Army as an engineer officer. His final tour was as an A-Team leader for 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
- Talarah Cataldi, spouse of Professor John Cataldi, is a Duke University graduate and served in active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps for two tours as a motor transportation officer.
- Craig Lawhorn, administrative assistant for the Sociology and Anthropology Department, served in the Army National Guard from 1988-1991 as an infantry gunner.
“Today, we’re here to honor veterans,” Nussio said, “and I think this should be a day of thanks and gratitude. For the civilians who are here today, the next time you meet a veteran and thank them for their service, I really hope you have a new and profound view of what a veteran is, and an understanding of their depth and love of country and how much veterans have to offer.”
Nussio earned a B.S. from Central Michigan University with a double major in cartography and Earth science and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army as a distinguished military graduate. As a career armor and cavalry officer, he has training and operational experience in armored, infantry, airborne and reconnaissance organizations, commanding at all levels from captain through colonel. He served in Germany, Panama, Haiti, Jordan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. His foreign awards and decorations include the French National Defense Medal (Gendarmerie), German Parachutist Wings, Nijmegen March Medal, Belgian Army Physical Fitness Award and the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge (Gold).
Prior to transitioning from active service, Colonel Nussio served on the Afghanistan Policy and Strategy Team in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy) and as the Special Assistant of Asian & Pacific Security Affairs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs. Following his transition from active duty, he served as a professional staff member on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Colonel Nussio currently works for L3Harris Technologies as director of government relations.