Skip to main content

Memorial honors Cornellians who served their country

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Forty-seven Cornellians from the classes of 1927 to 1971 were honored during Reunion in 1993 at the dedication of the Korean/Vietnam War Memorial in the rotunda of Anabel Taylor Hall at Cornell University. Since then, two additional alumni who were killed during the Vietnam War have been identified. Their names will be added to the memorial at a rededication ceremony June 6 during this year's Reunion events.

Members of the rededication committee, chaired by alumnus Joseph Ryan '65, are determined that no alumnus who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his or her country will be overlooked. With the aid of students in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), they are searching alumni lists and contacting Cornellians around the world to ask if they know of any alumni who were killed in service during the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War or Desert Storm. This includes anyone who died even years later of injuries incurred during service.

"The Korean/Vietnam War Memorial is not about politics nor does it seek to glorify war," explained William Huling '68, senior corporate programs director in the Johnson Graduate School of Management and university coordinator of the committee. "It is a testament to the sacrifices of individuals and an homage to the memory of fallen friends and classmates. It is also a tribute to all Cornell veterans who served honorably in those two wars. Reflecting Cornell's spirit of excellence, these men and women served with courage, perseverance and unfailing devotion to duty despite arduous combat conditions and nonsupport from the nation's populace."

The tribute to the veterans includes the Korea/Vietnam Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has provided financial support to four students.

The idea for the memorial came together at the first alumni gathering of Vietnam veterans held during Reunion in 1990; it was only the second such gathering held at any university. Ryan, who was a Navy diver during the Vietnam War, formed a committee that included Joel Swerdlow '74, co-author of To Heal a Nation , a book about the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.; Maj. Gen. John Sobke '61; and Robert Hansen '66, executive director of the Korean War Memorial Advisory Board in Washington, D.C. Huling, also a Vietnam veteran, coordinated the effort.

The memorial was dedicated June 11, 1993, with more than 150 people in attendance, including Dick Cheney, who had been secretary of defense under President George Herbert Walker Bush and who was that year's Reunion Olin lecturer at Cornell. A limestone tablet listed 47 names in one-inch bronze letters to honor 27 men who died in Vietnam, 16 in Korea and four in actions such as a 1984 multinational peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Desert.

The names of John J. Lawendowski '52 and Roger H. Coye '52 will be added to the list of Vietnam veterans at the rededication ceremony to be held June 6. The keynote speaker will be Jay Morley, former senior vice president at Cornell who is now president of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). He was an officer in the Marine Corps who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

Since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, there are plans to have a commemorative display at the ceremony.

The Cornell Alumni Federation has contributed a grant to help support the project.

Anyone who knows of a Cornellian who was killed during the Vietnam or Korean wars or who perished in military service afterward, is asked to contact Huling at (607) 255-9444 or wwh1@cornell.edu . Names that already are memorialized are posted at http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/Feb03/war.memorial.names.html .

Media Contact

Media Relations Office