ASU's Salute to Service flag-football game

ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences honors military members

By

Rachel Bunning

In celebration of Veterans Day, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University honored and appreciated veterans and active members of the military during Salute to Service.  

Organized by ASU’s Alumni Association and the Pat Tillman Veterans Center, the annual Salute to Service tradition pays homage to the nation’s men and women in uniform. Students, faculty and staff planned more than 20 special recognition and service-themed events across the university, ranging from an interactive military experience to a veteran’s career appreciation mixer.

“It’s an opportunity for the university to focus on the relationship we have with the military and veterans. That relationship has to do with the students who are here and the faculty and staff who may have served,” said Paul LePore, associate dean for student and academic programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “It’s a time that gives us a chance to pause and take stock in what we have as a country and to thank our military men and women for their service.”

This year, the Salute to Service theme was dedicated to the “Legacy of Service.” The annual week of events honored the generation of men and women who bravely served in the Vietnam War. 

“As a Navy Vietnam veteran, I was happy to receive the respect and honor that was not there when we came back from our tours,” said Michael Wold. “I was humbled to be in the presence of the other Vietnam vets who were being honored since they gave much more than I did. It was a memorable event for me. I thank the many people at ASU who worked so hard to make it a success.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in partnership with the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and ASU’s Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement, hosted a Salute to Service reception, “50 Years After Vietnam,” and the second annual Salute to Service flag-football tournament.

“We are proud to honor the service of veterans and active-duty military members during ASU’s Salute to Service,” said Patrick Kenney, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “These events help us recognize all the men and women who have made sacrifices to serve this great nation.”

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the college held the Salute to Service reception in the backyard of Manzanita Residence Hall. The attendees were able to browse photographs from the "Veteran Vision Project" by alumnus Devin Mitchell, who is committed to helping veterans heal and spread awareness about the challenges they face. The project captures the striking diversity of veterans and their unique experiences in uniform as well as their lives after service.

“Over the last few years, we’ve highlighted different elements of the military service folks,” said LePore. “This year, we focused on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. We had local vets who served come to the reception, and they were honored as part of a photo exhibition and one of their own spoke.”

Colonel Patricia Little-Upah, a member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps who retired after serving 30 years, was a distinguished speaker at the event. She talked about her various positions and experiences throughout her military career. She has held many titles — including officer in charge of ICU, chief nurse, interim commander and commander of the 6253rd U.S. Army Reserve Hospital in Phoenix — and she has served in many places, such as Saudi Arabia and Long Bien and Da Nang in Vietnam.

“It is always a blessing to be able to hear the accounts of those who have served before me,” said Maj. Melinda Santos, assistant professor of aerospace studies and recruiting flight commander for the Air Force ROTC Detachment 025. “To learn and glean lessons from the trials and sacrifices of those who valiantly dedicated their service is truly humbling. I was taken back by the overwhelming support ASU provides to our military, not just during Salute to Service but every day.”

On Sunday, Nov. 5, the college geared up for its second annual flag-football tournament during the Salute to Service festivities. The tournament honors America’s service members for their courage and sacrifice while representing a source of pride for the college: being home to ASU’s ROTC programs.

Student veterans from Pat Tillman Veterans Center and cadets and midshipmen from the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine ROTC units competed to take home the coveted Dean’s Cup during an afternoon of competition, community and camaraderie.

This year, Navy ROTC won the tournament and will have the honor of “owning” and proudly displaying the Dean’s Cup trophy until next year.

“I think the success of the event rests in the fact that the groups are competitive; they want to win,” said LePore. “There are a lot of folks who work together in order to make this tournament happen, and it’s a nice way we can support our future military leaders along with our current student veterans.”

LePore said the event exemplifies the college’s commitment to supporting student veterans and ROTC members. The tournament gives cadets and midshipmen the opportunity to connect with student veterans, compete and focus on their service while preparing for a future in the military.

“The college understands the importance of service,” said Kenney. “We recognize the enduring legacy of all patriots in times of peace and war — past and present.”