Memorial wall dedicated Friday at Memorial Student Center

Memorial wall dedicated Friday at Memorial Student Center

By University Communications
October 21, 2013
Visitors at the memorial wall read some of the 40 individual plaques.

Photo: Visitors at the memorial wall read some of the 40 individual plaques.

A memorial wall that honors students, faculty and staff who died while serving their country was dedicated Friday, Oct. 18, at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

The wall was unveiled during a ceremony on the first floor of the Memorial Student Center. A total of 40 men, dating to World War I, have been identified and will be honored with individual plaques.

The project is tied to the name of the Memorial Student Center, which originally was dedicated in 1959 to all students and employees who died while in the military. A marble plaque was installed at that time, but a list of the fallen never was completed because of missing and incomplete records.

“The memorial’s time is long overdue,” said Darrin Witucki, University Centers director. “It makes the Memorial Student Center more complete.”

The original plaque was moved to the current student center, which opened in 1985, and is outside the south doors “within eyesight” of the new memorial, Witucki said.

The original student center now is the Communication Technologies Building.

The effort to identify individuals began about a year ago, spurred by a scholarship created in memory of Lt. John Abrams, a 1962 alumnus who died in 1968 in Vietnam. Former classmates who started the Abrams scholarship fund inquired about honoring Abrams with a plaque, leading to a renewed effort to honor all the university’s fallen military members.

Many of the 40 individuals had been identified by Archivist Kevin Thorie, who recently retired. Additional research was conducted by University Archives, under the direction of Archivist Heather Stecklein and Archives Assistant Robin Melland. Assistant Wendy Guerra and intern Melissa Schultz, a graduate student in the public history program at UW-Eau Claire, spent many weeks researching and verifying individual information.

“The greatest challenge for us was locating information about each individual’s military service. In the end, we were able to compile enough biographical information about each honoree to give him the recognition he deserved,” Stecklein said. “The wall includes a remarkably diverse group of individuals.”

The goal of the memorial committee was to include as many individuals as possible who graduated from, attended or worked at the university and whether they died in action, from disease or illness or in a military accident.

“It’s a powerful personal connection to read these stories,” Witucki said, noting that the men died in diverse ways, such as by gas poisoning, in the D-Day invasion, while scouting for the Battle of the Bulge and in training accidents.

The list includes five men from World War I, 28 from World War II, one from the Korean War and six from the Vietnam War. 

Information on each of them can be found here.

The student center memorial is about 16 feet wide and 9 feet high. It can be expanded if additional individuals are identified or die in future conflicts. A handful of potential inductees still is being researched, and new information on other individuals is welcome.

Ceremony
The ceremony included remarks from Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen and Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and marketing.

Names of the honorees were read by UW-Stout Veterans Club members, and a UW-Stout ROTC color guard presented the flag and unveiled the memorial.

The James Huff Stout Bell in the Bowman Hall Clocktower rang 40 times, once for each person being honored.

The ceremony was streamed live over the Internet. The ceremony coincided with homecoming week at UW-Stout and the Golden Reunion for the classes of 1962-64.

Committee
The memorial wall committee is chaired by Witucki. Along with Stecklein, other committee members are Alex Dearmond, School of Art and Design and Faculty Senate; Jody Engeldinger, student center; Joe Huth, Counseling Center and Senate of Academic Staff; Brent Market, Physical Plant; Jen Rudiger, Stout University Foundation; Don Steffen, University Communications; and Brian Stout, former ROTC program director.