Honoring those who have served their country, which includes hundreds of Chemeketa Community College’s students, faculty and staff, was the goal of the day during veteran appreciation events on the Salem and Yamhill Valley campuses.
The event on the Salem campus Nov. 8 featured a presentation of the colors by the North Salem High JROTC, a display of military uniforms by the Greater Salem Area Veterans’ Organization, links to services for veteran students, and a discussion featuring a prominent local World War II veteran.
“It’s the first chance we’ve ever had to do something this in-depth,” said Bruce Irvin of Chemeketa’s Veterans Services Office.
There are approximately 400 student veterans receiving a form of education benefit at Chemeketa, Irvin said. An additional 300-500 students have identified themselves as being veterans.
The featured guest of honor for the Salem event was William T. Wingett, a member of the famed “Easy Company”, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. The company’s experiences during the war were featured in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”
Wingett, who fought in Normandy, Holland and the Battle of the Bulge as part of Easy Company and received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart with two oak clusters among other awards, did a question and answer session for the audience on hand, with the question being asked by Public Safety Director Bill Kohlmeyer.
He encouraged the large audience in the Student Activity Center to do more to support new veterans coming home from overseas.
“I believe, deeply and sincerely, that Chemeketa cannot do it alone. Chemeketa has got to have the assistance of every America who is a real patriot… I am sitting here today and I am praising the young who are coming home from the wars,” Wingett said.
Irvin said he hoped the event would spur people to learn more about what being a veteran involves.
“Give (people) the opportunity to learn and reflect on what Veterans Day is about,” he said. “It’s not just day to not have to go to school.”