OU Student Comes Face-to-Face with WWII History

Paige Williams and Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk

OU student Paige Williams recently had the chance to meet 91-year-old WWII veteran Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima that helped to turn the course of the war. Paige, who is the vice president of the Oglethorpe Veterans’ Club (OVC), met the American hero at a gathering of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, where he was a guest speaker.

Paige was able to meet Mr. Van Kirk as a result of an invitation from an OU faculty member Dr. Chris Benton, who is the director of accounting studies at OU,  the faculty advisor for the OVC, and a Vietnam veteran. Dr. Benton is a proud member of Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association, an organization that brings together metro Atlanta professionals who share the bond of serving their country in Vietnam.  The association meets monthly and celebrates a special guest speaker during each meeting.

According to Dr. Benton, some speakers are Medal of Honor winners—and they all represent the face of American history. Each provides their own personal account of events and sometimes even unveil a humorous side of history.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to meet the people who lived and wrote the history that we all study in classrooms.”

The Oglethorpe Veterans’ Club is always looking for ways to honor and remember American veterans. In just a few weeks, on Saturday, April 7, they’re planning a day trip to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga., billed as “the greatest museum in the U.S. designed first and foremost with the Army Infantryman in mind.” The trip is open to everyone.  To sign up for trip or to learn more about OVC, send an e-mail to ovc@oglethorpe.edu.

Oglethorpe Veterans Club Honors Those Who’ve Served

The Oglethorpe Veterans Club handed out yellow lapel ribbons across campus.

To commemorate Veterans Day today, the newly-formed Oglethorpe Veterans Club distributed yellow lapel ribbons to raise awareness, held a campus-wide moment of silence at 11 a.m. to remember those who have fallen, and hosted a “Lest We Forget” brunch event to honor those who’ve served and their families.  

The Oglethorpe Veterans Club members include veterans, family members, students, faculty, staff and alumni who have come together to recognize the contributions of soldiers. 

“Veterans are really everywhere,” said Jef Palframan ’13, founding president of the OU Veterans Club—and a veteran himself. “The club is for everyone, not just veterans, and our mission is the aid those who have served and their families.”

Jef Palframan '13, Professor Chris Benton, Trustee Fred Agel '52, Trustee Emeritus O.K. Sheffield '53

The event opened and closed with prayers for those who have  fallen in battle, for those who are missing, and those who are fighting right now. There also were toasts made to those who have served and their families, as well as remarks from Dean of Students Michelle Hall, OU Trustee Fred Agel ’52, and Trustee Emeritus O.K. Sheffield ’53. Veterans who attended were encouraged to wear their uniforms and medals. 

OU shares a long history with alumni veterans and veterans-turned-students. Oglethorpe’s first international students in the 1940s were four Norwegian veterans of WWII.  (Read the full article: Summer 2011 Carillon, pages 10-11.)  Currently there are 13 veterans enrolled as students at Oglethorpe.

An empty table symbolized those soldiers who are or were prisoners of war or missing in action.