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U of U to Honor 11 Utah Veterans at Annual Commemoration Program

November 3, 2004 – The University of Utah will honor 11 Utah veterans at a full-dress military ceremony as part of its annual Veteran’s Day commemoration program on Thursday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. in the Olpin Union Building on campus. Eleven Utah veterans will be presented with honorary medallions for their service to our country by Governor Olene S. Walker. Nearly 100 cadets and midshipmen from the military science ROTC programs will present the ceremony, which will include a 21-gun cannon salute. The honorees were selected from over fifty nominations submitted by Utah citizens. The group of eleven represents all branches of service and those who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

A morning panel, Utah Troops Report on the War in Iraq, will be held at 8:45 a.m. in the Union Saltair Room. Four panelists will discuss their recent experiences in Iraq. The panelists include:

· Jefferson Burton, Lieutenant Colonel, Commander, 1457th Combat Engineer Battalion, Utah Army National Guard who recently returned from a 15-month deployment including one year in Iraq, where he commanded 650 combat engineers operating in the Baghdad area.

· Edward B. Gundersen, Lieutenant Colonel, Commander, 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist), Utah Army National Guard, who was Battalion Commander for 17 months for the Battalion Forward Deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom

· Christian K. Portiss, Captain, Executive Officer, Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, who spent a six-month deployment in Iraq as part of the Regimental Combat Team-five during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom

· Matthew E. Robinson, Captain, Commander, 419th Transportation Company (Medium Truck Petroleum), U.S. Army Reserve, who returned this summer from an 18-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including over 14 months in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations

Of special interest will be a display of vintage World War II military vehicles from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the grounds just south of the Union Building, courtesy of Karl Smith. The display will be accompanied by two “living” historians who will be on hand to answer questions.

A free screening of the new feature film, Saints and Soldiers, will be presented at 2 p.m. in the auditorium in Orson Spencer Hall, followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director, screenwriter, and Brian Patrick from the U of U film department.

The annual Veterans’ Day concert presented by the Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band and the combined choruses of the Granite School District will be held at 7 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

For additional information, call (801) 585-3595.


8:45 a.m.
Panel: Utah Troops Report on the War in Iraq
Saltair Room, Olpin Union Building

11:00 a.m.
Full Dress Military Ceremony
Main Ballroom, Olpin Union Building
Paying tribute to this year’s 11 Utah veteran honorees

2:00 p.m.
Free Movie Screening: Saints and Soldiers
Auditorium, Orson Spencer Hall

7:00 p.m.
Annual Veterans’ Day Concert
Huntsman Center
Presented by the Utah National Guard 23rd Army Band


Vintage Military Vehicles
Veterans’ Day only – 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
On the grounds just south of the Union Building, courtesy of Karl Smith

2004 Veterans’ Day Honorees
Union West Ballroom Display Case from November 1-30
Includes vintage photos and memoirs of this year’s honorees written by cadets from the Army ROTC program

The Home Front
Union Main Foyer Display Case from November 1-30
Photographs of the new WW II Memorial in Washington, D.C., (American West Center); memorabilia from Utah’s Gold Star Mothers, (Marriott Library’s Special Collections); and items from the Fort Douglas Military Museum

University Bookstore
Featuring military books from October 30 – November 13
2004 Honorees

Cloyd O. Bowden
U.S. Army: World War II
Serving in General Patton’s Third Army, Bowden’s unit was the first to cross the Luxembourg-German border to secure the area, encountering heavy shelling and mine fields as they crossed the Zsar River. Bowden lost his right leg and suffered wounds to his left leg when a blast from German artillery blew him from the road into the gutter in Shmitten. Purple Heart

Carlos Cerna
U.S. Navy: World War II
As a radar range finder operator on the USS Johnston 50 miles east of Samar Island in the Philippine Sea, Cerna responded to orders to abandon ship and jumped into the water. He and his fellow crew members endured 52 hours in shark- and barracuda-infested waters before being rescued. Purple Heart

Bryan Dell Cox
U.S. Air Force: World War II, Korea, Vietnam
After bailing out of a B-24 Liberator with engine problems, Cox was reported missing in action. He actually landed on a farm in Yugoslavia and was rescued by the resistance. They walked 96 days with little food, surviving ambushes, German plane strafing, red lice bites, and yellow jaundice. Cox also served in Korea and Vietnam and completed a 20-year career in the Air Force. Purple Heart

Jonas H. Erekson
U.S. Navy: World War II
Erekson was a pioneer in
underwater demolition. These Navy “frogmen” swam miles wearing only swim trunks, coral shoes, fins, a mask, and a knife while carrying 100 lbs. of explosives. Erekson swam in to Okinawa three days before the allied invasion, surveyed the ocean floor for potential impediments, and blasted channels in the coral reef, providing safe passage for the landing craft.

John W. Herndon Jr.
(Salt Lake City)
U.S. Army: Korea
A witness to the bloodiest
battles of the Korean War, Herndon went days without sleep, was overrun by the enemy, and survived sub-zero temperatures. He dragged a buddy to safety in the midst of fire, injured his legs, and lost part of his hearing from a shell that exploded nearby. He
suffered greatly as he watched men die horrible deaths. Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, Bronze Stars

Courtney Kruger
(Salt Lake City)
U.S. Army Air Force: World War II
In a forced surrender to the Japanese, Kruger was held prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. He was then moved to another prison camp in Japan, where he worked in an acid plant and suffered dysentery and beriberi, his weight dropping to nearly 65 pounds. He spent four years in captivity. Bronze Star

Jack Mack
(Salt Lake City)
U.S. Marines: World War II
Trained as a rifleman, Mack served in the British Solomon Islands where he encountered Japanese sniper fire; and Guadalcanal, where he took part in securing the island in the original invasion. In a “kill or be killed” six-month clash, the Marines lost 1,388 men and the Japanese lost 28,580. Mack contracted malaria, which caused health problems that continue today.

Chris H. Petersen
(Salt Lake City)
U.S. Marines: World War II and Korea
Petersen served in Saipan, Okinawa, and the Tinian Islands where napalm was used by American forces for the first time. Wounded in the knee, he was back on the front three days later, where he buried many Japanese. He later served 15 months in Korea building, blowing up, and rebuilding bridges while dealing with frostbite, scarce supplies, and a relentless enemy. Purple Heart

Jim Tazoi
U.S. Army: World War II
As a member of the famed 442nd Japanese-American unit, Tazoi was wounded twice in one day and still carries shrapnel from the fierce three-day battle during the rescue of the “Lost Battalion” in France, where only 18 of the original 180 men in his company
survived. Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star

Robert (Bob) Teran
U.S. Army Air Force: World War II
When Teran’s B-17 was shot down over Germany, he was captured and held prisoner for eight months. He suffered permanent injury when his coccyx was broken by a kick from a German guard. He then endured a 60-kilometer walk and transport on a crowded rail car with no food or water, no way to dispose of human waste, exposure to the elements, and near starvation. POW Medal

Charles Richard Thompsen
U.S. Army Air Force: World War II
Shot down on his first mission, his leg was broken on impact. He was captured by the Germans and spent the next 21 months in hospitals and POW camps in Germany. His leg was re-broken and set three times before it was repaired correctly and able to heal. After
enduring a 100-mile walk and freezing temperatures, he was liberated by General George Patton himself, and his Third Army. Purple Heart