March remembers people who served the country

Annual ceremony features travel from Terrell mall to Veterans memorial



Josh Label, sergeant first class of the University of Idaho ROTC cadre, left, and Chris Mann, President of the WSU veterans committee lead the Pullman American Legion Friday morning on Terrell Mall.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen roots editor

The ASWSU Student Veterans Committee honored veterans from all walks of life at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Friday morning at the WSU campus.

“When I think about this day four words come to mind: service, commitment, honor, and sacrifice,” Scott Carson, WSU regent and guest speaker, said.

Veterans, ROTC cadets and community members marched from the Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall to the memorial on Veterans Way. A veteran carried a red, white and blue flower wreath and the American Legion Color Guard followed.

Carson, a former Boeing executive, spoke last at the ceremony. He served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Carson was stationed in Thailand’s Nakhon Phenom Provence and shipped out on Nov. 11, 1966. When he returned to the U.S., he attended WSU in 1970 to study production management. He said he was shocked by the backlash that the Vietnam War in the U.S.

“Imagine serving for your county, you come back and you see protests at every turn you make,” he said.

Student veteran Brandon Cochran served in the Marines from 2007 to 2016. During his service, he traveled to Afganistan, Yemen, Djibouti and more.

Cochran, now a Ph.D. student studying English and composition, said his father attended WSU but passed away when Cochran was young. It was important for Cochran to be somewhere his father was, he said.

He said there was a comradery with the people he served with, so much so that he is still friends with people in his unit.

Jess Downs, the first guest speaker, also served in the Marines as an infantry officer from 2006 to 2011.

Downs was assigned to fight piracy in Africa. His unit was the first one to help with the mission described in the “Captain Phillips” movie starring Tom Hanks. The Navy Seals then took over the mission, he said.

Downs moved to Pullman about four years ago and now works for a medical device company.

“If our goal is to leave the world a better place in a relatively short time, the military is a wonderful place to start, but shouldn’t ever be the endpoint,” he said.

Jill Creighton, dean of students and associate vice president for campus life, also spoke at the ceremony. She said there are nearly 300 enrolled student veterans in Pullman and another 990 across the remaining WSU campuses.

Creighton said WSU will hold a student veterans symposium for the first time in March 2020 on the WSU Tri-Cities campus. The event will focus on what each campus provides for student veterans, as well as what the campus can do to improve.

Jason Williams, vice president of the ASWSU Student Veterans Committee, served nine years in the Navy as a helicopter rescue swimmer before coming to WSU. Williams will graduate with his bachelor’s degree from the Carson College of Business in December.

He said he already has a job lined up at a finance firm in Seattle. During his time at WSU, a team of students and he created the company BeeToxx, a solution to the honeybee issue that takes pesticides out of bees. The team took their idea to business competitions and they won about $113,000.

“It can be deflating to go from managing the squad to managing a portfolio,” Downs said. “That’s why it’s so important, as we look at the future, to continue celebrating Veterans Day.”