Four-star general, campus ceremony to commemorate Veterans Day at ECU

ECU News Services

East Carolina University’s Veterans Day services will include a Nov. 10 presentation by ECU alumnus and four-star U.S. Air Force general Gary L. North, along with a Nov. 11 ceremony marking the donation of 111 brick pavers, each given in honor of military service.

The Veterans Day events honor a long-standing tradition of military service at East Carolina University, said Steve Duncan, assistant vice chancellor for administration and finance and military programs.

“Our service to the military is rooted in a history that grew over time and we want to continue to respect that,” Duncan said.
Gen. Gary L. North

Duncan pointed out a long history of ECU connections with the military. At one point during WWII, Duncan said, the entire ECU football team was off at war. The Christenbury Gym was named for ECU coach John B. Christenbury, who was killed in 1944 while serving the U.S. Army.

The Veterans Day commemoration will kick off Nov. 10, when North speaks at 3:30 p.m. in Wright Auditorium as part of the College of Business Cunanan Leadership Speaker Series. His presentation is free and open to the public.

On Nov. 11, North will serve as the grand marshal for the 9 a.m. Greenville Vets Day parade. He will also speak at the ceremony that follows at the Town Common. The Air Force Presidential Silent Drill Team will also perform.

From there, celebrations will move to the ECU campus where North will serve as guest of honor. ECU events will begin at 1:11 p.m. near the Rawl Building, with the Silent Drill Team presenting. Following the drill team performance, the celebration will move to the Freedom Wall and Memorial Walk, a campus site that honors the military service of ECU faculty, staff and students.

There retired Col. Joe Marm will deliver the Veterans Day message. A Goldsboro resident, Marm was awarded the United States military’s highest decoration – the Medal of Honor – for his role in the Vietnam War at the Battle of la Drang. The battle was made famous in the book, “We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam,” which was made into a movie starring Mel Gibson.

The ceremony will include ringing the Victory Bell, brought to ECU in 1953 to honor WWII and Korean Conflict veterans, along with the commemoration of 111 brick pavers.

The  number of pavers is significant in that the ECU Veterans Day ceremony begins at 1:11 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2011 or 11-11-11. That was an idea generated by Steve Duncan.

“My goal was to have at least 111 pavers to go with the 2011 service,” Duncan said. “It seems we have made that goal, and may even surpass it.”

“The pavers honor individuals for their national service, but not just men and women who fought or died fighting, but also friends and family members who went to work in factories and such when their husbands went off to war,” Duncan said. 

“ECU has extremely close ties with the military and therefore we have a sense of care and protection for these people. We have major military bases right in our backyard, all around North Carolina,” Duncan said.


Gary L. North

ECU alumnus Gen. Gary L. North is commander of Pacific Air Forces, responsible for Air Force activities spread over half the globe.

His command supports 45,000 USAF troops in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Korea and Japan. He also serves as air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command and executive director for Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. 

North completed ECU’s ROTC program as a distinguished graduate and, in 1976, was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. 

He has completed four long and four short overseas tours and held numerous operational, command and staff positions. He is a command pilot with more than 4,600 flying hours, primarily in the F-4, F-15 and F-16. 

He flew 83 combat missions in Operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. 


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