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MTSU, community embrace veterans at celebration (+...

MTSU, community embrace veterans at celebration (+VIDEOS)

Stirring, touching and countless other goose-bump emotions riveted the Middle Tennessee State University campus Saturday (Nov. 9) during the 32nd annual Salute to Armed Services.

As part of MTSU’s “Red, White and Blue Weekend” two days before the nation honors its former service members and active-duty personnel on Veterans Day, the university rolled out the red carpet for hundreds who served or continue to serve their country.

Activities included a ceremony at the MTSU Veterans Memorial site outside the Tom H. Jackson Building; a picnic and presentation of the 24th annual Joe Nunley Award at the Emmett and Rose Kennon Hall of Fame; and a musically inspired halftime full of patriotism in Floyd Stadium.

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ed Smith of Brentwood, Tenn., received the Nunley award. “It really hasn’t sunk in. I’m still really surprised,” said Smith, who was joined at the event by his wife, Molly, son Greg and daughter-in-law Jan.

U.S. Army Major Gen. N. Lee S. Price, left, receives a welcome to Murfreesboro and MTSU from Jeff Davidson, deputy county mayor for Rutherford County, Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. Price spoke at the MTSU Veterans Memorial Saturday (Nov. 9) outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

U.S. Army Major Gen. N. Lee S. Price, left, receives a welcome to Murfreesboro and MTSU from Jeff Davidson, deputy county mayor for Rutherford County, Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.  (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

“I’m really excited about receiving the award,” Ed Smith added. “It really is a great honor, not just an honor for me, but it’s an honor for everybody that’s ever worn the uniform.”

Past Nunley recipients Warren King and Em Ghianni of Nashville and Charles Jones of McMinnville sat with Smith during the ceremony.

Col. John Furgess, an MTSU alumnus, announced that the Nunley award committee has decided that the 2014 award will be in honor of all World War II veterans and will be the final Nunley presentation.

Before the ceremony, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joel Miller, the chair of the military science, swore in eight MTSU ROTC cadets.

Members from the local Rolling Thunder organization take down an old Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag and replace it with a new one. The Saturday (Nov. 9) MTSU Veterans Memorial ceremony began with the posting of the colors by the group, which brings awareness to POW and MIA issues. (MTSU photo by News and Media Relations)

Members from the local Rolling Thunder organization take down an old Prisoner of War/Missing in Action flag and replace it with a new one.

They included: Brevan Addington and Ryan Shoemaker of Kingsport, Tenn.; Anthony Duncan of Lebanon, Tenn.; Jeffrey Enderson of La Vergne, Tenn.; Paul Moret of New Orleans, La.; Seth Williams of Woodbury, Tenn.; Jonathan Wright of Murfreesboro; and Reed Honken of Knoxville, Tenn. All are juniors except Honken.

Enderson said the swearing-in ceremony “gave me a sense of pride to show my support for veterans who came before me, and continue a tradition of service for my country.”

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. N. Lee S. Price served as guest speaker for the MTSU Veterans Memorial ceremony. With a theme of “women veterans,” Price shared how far women have advanced in military service, but that they still have more to achieve. Price is the Army’s first female program executive officer. She guides a workforce of more than 1,800 personnel who execute an annual budget of $4 billion.

Representatives of the famed World War II Navajo Code Talkers attended several of the events. They and all the veterans attended the MTSU-Florida International football game.

At halftime, the nearly 340-member Band of Blue performed official military songs as each of the branches of military went across Jones Field. American Idol top-10 finalist Kristy Lee Cook sang “God Bless America.” Blue Raider football player and former Marine Steven Rhodes carried the U.S. flag while leading his teammates and coaches onto the field before the game. His wife, Adrienne, a U.S. Navy veteran, walked across the field with her fellow veterans at halftime.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

Retired Col. John Furgess, left, presents the 2013 Joe Nunley Award to retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ed Smith of Brentwood, Tenn., Saturday outside the Rose and Emmett Kennon Hall of Fame at MTSU. Smith is a World War II, Korean and Vietnam war veteran. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

Retired Col. John Furgess, left, presents the 2013 Joe Nunley Award to retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ed Smith of Brentwood, Tenn., Saturday outside the Rose and Emmett Kennon Hall of Fame at MTSU. Smith is a World War II, Korean and Vietnam war veteran. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

Watch video of the Veterans Memorial ceremony here.

MTSU defensive end and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Steven Rhodes leads the Blue Raiders onto the field for the Salute To Armed Services game against Florida International University. The Blue Raiders became bowl eligible in their 48-0 victory. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

MTSU defensive end and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Steven Rhodes leads the Blue Raiders onto the field for the Salute To Armed Services game against Florida International University. The Blue Raiders became bowl eligible in their 48-0 victory. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

As the MTSU Band of Blue performs the official military song during special halftime ceremonies, Air Force veterans go across Jones Field at the MTSU-Florida International game. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

As the MTSU Band of Blue performs the official military song during special halftime ceremonies, Air Force veterans go across Jones Field at the MTSU-Florida International game. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

Former American Idol top-10 finalist Kristy Lee Cook performs “God Bless America” during special halftime ceremonies Nov. 9 in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)

Former American Idol top-10 finalist Kristy Lee Cook performs “God Bless America” during special halftime ceremonies Nov. 9 in Floyd Stadium. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt/Creative and Visual Services)


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