Fighting Eagles Cadets Commemorate Memorial Day With Fallen Heroes Ceremony

On May 22nd, 2019 the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) battalion conducted its first of what is planned to be an annual Fallen Heroes Ceremony in rememberance of the 10 former Cadets and 1 Cadre member from EWU that were killed on combat tours.  The ceremony was held at the Roos Field football stadium on the Eastern campus.

Cannon Crew members Cadet Bryce and Kyle Stanton salute during the playing of the National Anthem. 

The Eastern ROTC program known as the “Fighting Eagles” battalion has been producing leaders for the US military since 1952. In the early years of the program all males that attended Eastern had to enroll for two years into ROTC. This caused the program to have over 1,000 Cadets. With the conclusion of the Vietnam War and the end of mandatory military service, Eastern no longer required all males to enroll in ROTC. Today the battalion maintains a size of approximately 100 Cadets.

MS-IV Cadet Scott Hinshaw served as the narrator for the Fallen Heroes Ceremony.

However, it was during the Vietnam era when the ROTC battalion was at its largest, that the program experienced its combat fatalities.  A total of 10x Fighting Eagles alumni and 1x Cadre member from Eastern have been killed in combat during the Vietnam War. Of these heroes, 1x received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, 1x more received the Distinguished Service Cross the nation’s second highest medal for valor, 3x more received Silver Star Medals, the nation’s third highest honor for valor, and 2x more received the Bronze Star, the nation’s fourth highest medal for valor. It is these fallen heroes that we gather here today to commemorate.

Professor of Military Science, LTC Jonathan Stafford addresses the audience during the Fallen Heroes Ceremony.

At the ceremony a Table of Honor was set up with biographical plaques for each of our Fallen Heroes:

Table of Honor with biography for each Fallen Hero.

Below are the Fallen Heroes from the EWU ROTC battalion with the year they graduated or attended ROTC followed by major awards they received:

  • LTC Bob Gregory – Assistant PMS 1961-1962 (Distinguished Service Cross)
  • 1LT Randall Arney – 1967 Graduate
  • MAJ Richard Ator – 1962 Graduate (Silver Star & Bronze Star)
  • PFC Timothy Burchett – ROTC member from 1966-1968 (Silver Star)
  • SFC Bruce Grandstaff – ROTC member from 1952-1954 (Medal of Honor)
  • 1LT Victor Hodson – 1968 Graduate
  • 1LT Owen McCandlis – 1968 Graduate
  • 1LT Randy Turner – 1968 Graduate (Silver Star)
  • 1LT Richard Walker – 1967 Graduate
  • 1LT William Wall – 1968 Graduate (Bronze Star)
  • LT Ronald Wolfe – 1961 graduate

During the ceremony a short biography for each Eastern Cadet and Cadre member killed in action was read to the audience.  After the completion of the biography, our historic howitzer that saw combat action in the European theater of World War II was fired in their honor.  Our cannon is usually fired in support of the home football team, but today it was fired 11 times in honor of our university’s Fallen Heroes.

The Cannon Crew fires our historic World War II pack howitzer. 

The casualties of war are not only those who died in battle, but also the families they left behind. President Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, wrote of “…the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom,” in a letter during the Civil War to a mother who lost five sons. Each of the heroes we remembered today all had families that loved them dearly as well.

Please keep them and all the military servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice close to your heart this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the rest of the year.