Heroes among us
During the month of November, display cases were set up throughout campus to honor the military. In each display case, touching tributes to men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces told a story. Conflicts from World War II to Afghanistan were represented in uniforms, veteran biographies, medals, honors and other military items, and those items told the unique and individual stories of veterans whose lives were in some way connected to JCCC.
They were initially set up as a promotional tool for the campus Veterans Week events, which had as its highlight the premiere of the Navajo Code talker documentary, The Heart of a Warrior, created by JCCC faculty and staff.
A small collection of memorabilia grew bigger, as more items were donated, generating more displays throughout campus.
Georgia Livingston, administrative assistant, enrollment management, and mother of two adult children and a daughter in law who are currently serving in the Army, helped to coordinate the efforts. Four fashion design students, Laura Medina, Travis Ward, Madison Southwick and Marceena Sims, all contributed to designing the display cases.
Livingston said the students were very careful with each item and treated them with great respect.
“Students were amazing with the sentimental items and took great care of them,” she said. “They knew that they were irreplaceable and meant a lot to the families.”
Several of the items on display belonged to Livingston’s family, including a flag that was flown over Iraq during her son Rick’s tour.
“The flag was presented to the Livingston family in honor of our support of the military during Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Livingston.
Also in the same case are items representing the Vietnam era from Teresa Leland, selective admissions assistant. Leland’s father, Arnold Estes, was an Army pilot. His burial flag was included in the collection.
“At his funeral, he (Estes) was honored with a 17-gun salute,” said Livingston. “You can actually see the casings inside his flag case in the display. All 17 of them are there.”
At the end of the month, all items were returned to the rightful owners, with the exception of one army uniform worn by the father of Betsy Schwab, administrative assistant, JCCC Police. This uniform will become part of a permanent collection of military memorabilia to remain on campus. Corporal Charles Albert Schwab wore the uniform in World War II.
Schwab was looking for a place to donate her father’s items while protecting the history and integrity of each piece. She said she was excited that her father’s items would be able to be on display here at JCCC where she works every day.
“My dad was very proud of his military service,” said Schwab. “This is a great way to preserve all of his items in a way that I probably could not have done.”
Kena Zumalt, veteran services, said that she hopes to be able to add to the permanent collection.
She said plans are currently underway to locate a central campus location in which to house the collection. Zumalt said the goal is to continue to coordinate with the fashion design department to put the displays together each year during Veteran’s Week.
She said having the physical items and stories here on campus helps to bring the military experiences closer to home.
“It is really nice to be able to bring these items to campus,” said Zumalt. “Seeing them brings a more realistic level because there is such a close connection.”
Collections in the display cases included biographies or memorabilia and bios from the following people:
- James “Bud” Hill, 82nd Airborne Division, paratrooper, served in World War II. Father-in-law of Kris Downing, counselor.
- Clifton Beeson, Navy, motor machinist mate first class, served in World War II aboard the USS Chief, an AUK-class minesweeper. Grandfather of Rebecca Beeson, JCCC student and veteran services assistant.
- George Albert Myers, corporal, 5th Marine Division, served in Japan during World War II. Was wounded in combat and received many service awards including the Purple Heart and Rifle Expert Badge. Myers is the father of Georgia Livingston.
- Richard E. Bortz, US Navy Signalman second class, served during World War II aboard the USS Isaac M. Singer. Awarded several medals including the European Campaign medal, Pacific Campaign medal and the China Campaign medal. Bortz was a relative of the wife of Paul Kyle, dean, student services.
- Clarence Hager, 1st Army, 2nd Division, and 9th infantry. Served during World War II, injured during a counter-attack, and received many awards including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and Honorable Service Lapel Button. Hager is the father-in-law of Nancy Hager, graduation analyst.
- Arnold Estes, Army, pilot, served in Vietnam. Father of Teresa Leland. Received numerous awards including Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star, Air Medal with V, and Vietnam Service Medal.
- Rear Admiral Scott B. Jerabek, deputy commander, Navy Warfare Development Command. Recipient of many service awards including Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and multiple unit commendation medals. He is the husband of Kim Jerabek, financial aid assistant.
- Millard Dean Ross, technical sergeant, 32nd Malaria Survey Company. Served in World War II. Recently traveled to the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is the grandfather of Ashley Jost, administrative assistant, financial aid.
- Roger Lee Ward III, Army, infantryman. A decorated combat veteran survived three deployments to the Middle East and is a Purple Heart recipient from his tour in Iraq in 2003. Ward is a client of Elisa Waldman, Kansas Small Business Development Center.
- Virginia Mae Harrington, Coast Guard, SPARS- Semper Paratus, Always Ready, the women’s branch of the Coast Guard. Served for two years during World War II. Harrington is the mother of Marilyn Shopper, professor, science.
- Charles Albert Schwab, corporal, 3459th Ordnance MAM (Medium Auto Maintenance). Served in World War II. He is the father of Betsy Schwab.
- Marion W. Gordon, sergeant, Army Air Force, 7th Material Squadron. Served in World War II. He is the father of Anita Gordon Gilmore, archivist assistant. Gordon was awarded several service stars.
- Richard Lee Livingston, Army, chief warrant officer. Served in Iraq. He is the son of Georgia Livingston, enrollment management.
- Lisa Livingston, Army, captain. Served in Iraq. Lisa is the daughter-in-law of Georgia Livingston.
- Jerad Livingston, Army, Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Served in Iraq. Jerad is the son of Georgia Livingston.
- Kip Laverick, Army, Chemical Operations NCO. Served in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has received numerous awards including Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Medal and Army Oversees Ribbon. Works at JCCC in student success and engagement office.
- Jason Riggs, Air Force, first lieutenant, C130 Pilot, Served in Afghanistan. Son- in-law of Nancy Hager, graduation analyst.