W&L Honors Veterans, Remembers Friend At W&L's annual Veterans Day gathering, attendees honored all veterans and remembered longtime event organizer Paul Burns, who passed away in September.
Washington and Lee University honored its veterans on Thursday with a Veterans Day gathering in front of University Chapel that included remarks and a prayer for all service members, followed by fellowship and refreshments in the Reeves Center.
The observance has taken place annually on Veterans Day for more than a decade, but it had to be canceled last year because of COVID-19. This year’s attendees expressed appreciation for being able to gather in person again on a beautiful, crisp fall morning, but the event was tinged with sadness because a key player was absent.
Paul Burns, a longtime organizer of the event who led the prayer each year, passed away Sept. 19, 2021, of complications from COVID-19. He was 72 years old. Burns, who was director of environmental safety at W&L, served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves for 42 years, receiving a Bronze Star and an expert infantry badge. He was also the minister at Johns Creek Presbyterian Church in Covington.
“He is obviously missed on Veterans Day,” said Associate Provost Paul Youngman, “but he is also going to be missed every day that his big, caring personality is not here on this campus.”
Mark Fontenot, a fire safety systems inspector in Facilities Management, has helped Burns organize the event over the years. He led this year’s ceremony, which also included remarks from Youngman.
Youngman, an Army veteran, said he used to prefer to be alone with his service memories on Veterans Day, but over the years, he has come to appreciate the importance of getting together with fellow veterans. “We get to reconsider that idea of sacred trust that you don’t feel every day,” he said.
Retired public safety director Mike Young closed the ceremony with a prayer, asking that God continue to look after all veterans, particularly those who are homeless or ill, and protect the family members who support those veterans through years of service.
“Please guide our country’s leaders so that they have the knowledge and ability to handle the numerous problems that face our country in the world today,” he added. “Please protect our current serving members of the military from harm and allow them to return safely to their families when their service is completed.”
Veterans in attendance shared the following details about their time in the service:
Buddy Atkins ’68, retired director of donor relations, voluntarily joined the 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.
Pat Bristol, heating and cooling plant supervisor, spent 23 years in the Navy. He did one tour in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.
Jerry Clark, a plumber in Facilities Management, was in the Army’s 23rd Battalion, serving in Hanau, Germany, between 1970-72. He was a Specialist E-4.
Michael Ferguson ’22L served 20 years in the U.S. Navy as a Navy SEAL. He retired in 1998.
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.
Don Gaylord, research archaeologist and instructor, was a nuclear reactor operator in the 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).
Lloyd Goad, who is retired from ITS, served in the Air Force from 1969-1973. He was stationed at Osan AFB in Korea, where he served as a drug education and counseling sergeant for Air Forces Korea.
Dick Kuettner, director of the Global Discovery Laboratories, was in the Army from 1970-75. He served in intelligence collections in Germany and Vietnam, and separated four days shy of becoming a captain. He was awarded a Bronze Star.
Laurie Lipscomb, who is retired from the Communications Office, served in the 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.
Steven D. Lyle, a fraternity custodian, was in the Army from 1978-81, serving in Bamburg, Germany, and finishing up as an E-4.
John Maloney ’24L recently separated from the U.S. Air Force after 7 1/2 years of service as an electronic warfare officer.
Daniel Rexrode, who is retired from Public Safety, served in the Air Force from 1977-1981, where he worked on intercontinental ballistic missiles. He separated as a sergeant.
Ainsley Satterwhite ’22L is a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and is attending law school on an educational delay.
Bob Strong, a professor in the Politics Department, was a Navy officer from 1971-75, serving off the coast of Vietnam and later on a tender in Charleston, South Carolina.
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.
Mike Young, retired director of Public Safety, was a Sergeant DS in the 716th MP Battalion in the U.S. Army during Vietnam. He served from 1967-68.
Paul Youngman, associate provost and Redenbaugh Professor of German, served in the 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.
The following veterans are part of the W&L community but were not able to attend this year’s event:
Scott Centorino ’11 is in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Reserve. He was EC President at W&L in 2011 and earned his J.D. from Wake Forest in 2014. He joined the military one year ago.
Jerry Darrell, who is retired from Dining Services, served in the U.S. Navy from 1959 to 1961. His service included 20 months in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the ammunition ship USS WRANGELL AE-12, home port Naples, Italy. He was the ranking enlisted man in the log room/engineering office aboard the ship and was honorably discharged with the rank of E-4.
Ted Hickman, assistant director of Facility Services, served in the Army during Vietnam.
Tracy Huffer, electrical supervisor in Facilities Management, was a self-propelled field artillery systems mechanic in the Army. He was stationed in Germany during the first Gulf War. He has also served in the Army National Guard.
Tom Jones, who is retired from the Athletics Department, was a lieutenant in the United States Navy Air Force from 1960 to 1964, followed by two years of reserve duty. He was a navigator/tactical coordinator on a P2V “Neptune” aircraft with Patrol Squadron 24 home based in NAS Norfolk, Virginia. The squadron’s mission was anti-submarine warfare and search-and-rescue operations.
Mark Keeley, director of ITS projects and support, was a captain in the Army. He served most of his five years with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3/63rd Armor Battalion.
Kelly Markham, a fraternity custodian, served in the Navy from 1988-1992. He was stationed on the USS Missouri and left the service as an E-4.
Bobby Martin ’09 ’12L, an adjunct professor at the W&L School of Law, served on active duty in the Navy from 2015-2021 as a judge advocate. He recently separated from active duty and is now a reservist.
Bob Shaeffer, who recently retired from ITS at W&L, retired from the Air Force in 1997 after 20 years of service. He entered the Air Force in 1977 by way of an ROTC scholarship at Iowa State University. “It paid for my college, and since my draft number was 14, keep me out of being sent to a foxhole in Vietnam,” he said. After flight training, he was assigned to Germany flying the RF4C jet fighter. Shaeffer was stationed overseas for the next 17 years in Germany, England, Japan and Korea. His primary duty was flying reconnaissance along the borders of what was then East Germany and North Korea. He spent his final year as a liaison to the Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Jeff Thomas, network infrastructure specialist in Information Technology Services, served as an ammunition specialist in the Marine Corps.
Tom Tinsley ’75, who retired from ITS in 2016, served in the Air Force from 1968-1972. He underwent electronics and data communications training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas and at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, before heading to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he worked in secure voice switching. He was discharged as a Staff Sergeant E-5 in August 1972.
Julie Youngman, assistant professor of business administration, served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1987 to 1991. She was in the Medical Service Corps, and held several positions in Wiesbaden, Germany, first in a field hospital and ultimately on the staff of the general who commanded the Third Corps Support Command. Two highlights of her time in the military were graduating from the Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and also serving in Germany as the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany united. She left the service with the rank of captain in 1991 to return to grad school.