“Forty-one years ago we lost a father, a brother, a son … a proud graduate of ECU who was an asset to his school and his country,” Charles Rice said.
Sgt. David Smith, U.S. Marine Corp., ECU class of ’10, died in Helmund Provence, Afghanistan in 2010. His name was placed on a paving stone as well. His mother, Mary Jane McWilliams, said her son loved life in a special way.
“Our world changed forever when we lost him,” she said. “You have helped us honor him … .”
Four others who have served their country were honored with stones: Christian A. Lockamy, Lt. Col. John Hart, Duncan and Master Sgt. (Ret.) Ervin Evans. All attended and helped place the pavers at the memorial.
At the ceremony, students, faculty and staff held signs that said “We love our military,” “If you value your freedom, thank a soldier” and “SGA supports our troops.”
Dr. Steve Duncan, assistant vice chancellor for operations, planning, development and military programs, pointed to blue-shirted ECU facilities employees in the background, explaining they helped lay the bricks and mortar for the memorial.
“These seats were laid by the hands of those in the military and those who served alongside them,” he said.
Having a place on campus to honor service at ECU is particularly important, Duncan said, because the university has had a long and close relationship with the military and those who serve, Duncan said. That includes starting one of the nation’s first Air Force ROTC programs in 1948 — one year after the U.S. Air Force was established.
Some 100 people attended to mid-day ceremony, which included a rededication of the Victory Bell secured in 1953 as a memorial to World War II and Korean War veterans.