University of Tennessee at Martin honors veterans with special ceremony

MARTIN, Tenn. — Dozens of veterans lined up Friday inside the Phillip Watkins Auditorium on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Martin to be honored for their years of service.

“I came in at 1972 when I graduated from UT Martin with a commission in the Marine Corps and a degree in agriculture and a brand new wife, who I said, ‘honey’ we’re back on the farm in three years.’ We stayed in for 36 and I left in 2008,” said retired veteran Lt. Gen. John Castellaw.

The ceremony was put on by the UT Martin Skyhawk Veteran’s Association and the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 55.

Timothy McClain, Skyhawk Veteran’s Association president, emceed the event. Dr. Keith Carver, UT Martin chancellor, welcomed veterans and guests, and Dr. Rich Helgeson, UT Martin interim provost and Vietnam War veteran, was the featured speaker.

Participating in the pinning ceremony was Molly Morel and Tammy Hall, representing American Legion Auxiliary Unit 55, and Matt Van Epps, assistant commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services.

Any living veteran who served at any time on active duty from 1955 to 1975 was eligible to receive a Vietnam veteran lapel pin.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to show their dedication, their support, particularly to the Vietnam veterans who really didn’t get what they deserved,” Lt. Gen. Castellaw said.

Friday also marked the 242nd birthday for the United States Marine Corps. U.S. Marines were honored with a reception after the pinning ceremony.

“Since I’m a Marine, we’re gonna do a little howling at the moon tonight,” Lt. Gen. Castellaw said.

The university will continue to honor active military and veterans Saturday at Graham Stadium for the annual Veterans Day football game.

All active military and veterans will be admitted free to the game.

The ROTC Skyhawk Battalion will provide free lunch for active military and veterans before the game in the north end zone tailgating area under the Tennessee Army National Guard spider tent.

A special military induction ceremony and Skyhawk Marching Band patriotic music presentation will be performed at halftime. Several military vehicles will be available at the game for fans to view.

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