Veterans with ties to East Central University over the last 100 years will be honored during a tribute at 3 p.m. Sept. 23 [WEDNESDAY] on the Crabtree Honor Plaza during ECU's Centennial celebration. The plaza is between Science Hall and the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.
Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, the adjutant general of Oklahoma and a graduate of Ada High School, will speak and a memorial bench will be dedicated honoring ECU veterans and their sacrifices.
The week of celebration marks the anniversary of the first classes taught by ECU on Sept. 20, 1909.
"Since the fall semester of 1917, when male students left to serve in World War I and enrollment dropped by 19 percent, ECU's students, faculty and staff have given their lives in the defense of their country," said ECU President John Hargrave. "And since Sept. 11, 2001, numerous members of the Oklahoma National Guard and reserve forces have been mobilized and had to leave their classes.
"We owe these men and women a great deal," he added.
All veterans are encouraged to attend, Hargrave said, as well as community members and ECU faculty, staff and students. Veterans groups have been invited and other dignitaries are expected to attend.
Members of the GOLD Program at ECU will present the colors. That program allows students who are members of the Oklahoma National Guard to earn commissions as officers on campus while completing their degrees.
Others who will speak briefly include Hargrave and representatives of the Collegiate Veterans Association.
Jerry Snow, retired dean of students at ECU and a retired command sergeant major, the highest enlisted rank in the Army, will introduce speakers and preside over the bench dedication, a moment of silence and the introduction of veterans by their conflict or war.
Alpha Troop of the 1-180th Cavalry Brigade of the Oklahoma Army National Guard will fire a 21-gun salute to the veterans. Deering, the main speaker, was appointed adjutant general of Oklahoma last February. He serves as the military adviser to the governor and commands the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard.
In October 2007, he mobilized with his brigade and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He returned with his brigade in November 2008 and was promoted to major general in his new assignment as director of manpower and personnel at the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Deering was an enlisted member of the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Brigade before he was commissioned in 1976 through the Texas Army National Guard Officer Candidate School.
He transferred into the Oklahoma Army National Guard and rose through the ranks to command the 700th Support Battalion and serve as the director for the Human Resources Directorate as well as the director for the Plans, Operations and Training Directorate. He served as chief of the Joint Staff before he assumed command of the 45th Infantry Brigade in December 2004.
On short notice, the general deployed to New Orleans as commander of the Oklahoma National Guard's Joint Task Force following the devastating hurricanes of Katrina and Rita in September 2005. Deering assumed command of Task Force Orleans which provided disaster relief operations and support for the City of New Orleans.
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