(Photos and video by Cliff Hollis)

ECU honors service on Veterans Day

Nov. 11, 2014

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

East Carolina University remembered those who sacrificed and served during a Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

“This day is about honoring service above self,” said Dr. Steve Duncan, assistant vice chancellor and director of military programs at ECU.

Fifty-eight engraved pavers were dedicated at the Memorial Walk across from the Freedom Wall on the west side of Christenbury Gymnasium. The stones honor individuals who provided service in support of national defense, including military service and service to organizations such as the Veterans Administration, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Support the Troops, the Wounded Warrior Project and similar programs.

As each name was read, the Victory Bell was rung. The bell, secured in 1953 through the efforts of ECU’s Veterans Club, is a memorial to World War II and Korean War veterans. Herb Carlton, an ECU alumnus and Veterans Club member instrumental in securing the bell, was recognized with a paver at the ceremony. He is a retired associate professor of political science at ECU.

Al Lockamy, an ECU alumnus, wanted a place to recognize four of his classmates who served in Vietnam. It took about two years of planning before the Memorial Walk and Freedom Wall was dedicated in 2011. “This is a special place. It’s a place of recognition but also a place of healing,” said Duncan. “The pavers tell a story of sacrifice and support.”

Len Farris of Andover, Massachusetts, donated 30 of the pavers this year for his 1987 Air Force ROTC graduating class and staff at ECU. A Charlotte native, Farris earned a bachelor’s in business administration from ECU. He spent eight years on active duty as a navigator flying around the world, including more than 25 combat support missions in Operation Desert Storm.

The paver campaign raises funds for Army and Air Force ROTC student scholarships and is sponsored by the ECU College of Health and Human Performance and Office of Military Programs. A total of 178 pavers purchased over the past four years have raised more than $20,000 for scholarships, Duncan said.

The Ledonia Wright Cultural Center hosted a roundtable luncheon and discussion with Alex Albright, associate professor of English at ECU and author of “The Forgotten First: B-1 and the Integration of the Modern Navy.”

Two of the B-1 veterans, Huey Lawrence of Ayden and Abe Thurman of Beaufort, shared their memories – and a little music - at the ceremony.

The book chronicles the history of the band, founded in 1942 as the first of more than 100 black WWII Navy bands. Most were students and graduates from N.C. A&T University, and they were the first African Americans to serve in the modern U.S. Navy at a rank higher than messman. The group trained at Norfolk and served at the Navy’s pre-flight school in Chapel Hill and at Pearl Harbor, where they were stationed at the largest posting of African American servicemen in the world.