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By Valerie Morris ’13, Iona College MarCom Student Intern
New Rochelle, NY (November 12, 2012) Iona students, faculty, staff, administrators and the New Rochelle community gathered at noon on Friday, November 9, for the Veterans Day Observance Service and wreath laying ceremony. The Iona College pipe band, color guard, singers, and Saul Backer, a trumpet player from New Rochelle High School, all made this ceremony a special event.
Paul J. Sutera, senior vice president for Advancement and External Affairs, welcomed guests stating, “The Christian Brothers founded this college and built this college but veterans made this college. Our very first generation of students and lay faculty were men returning from World War II. Without their talent, their determination, maturity, and without the GI Bill, Iona College as we know it today would not exist.”
Mr. Sutera’s introductory remarks were followed by a reading of two biographies by Regina Plunkett-Dowling, M.Div., Ph.D., director of Mission Integration, and Carl Procario-Foley, Ph.D., director, Center for Campus Ministries (listed below) of Iona College Veterans who made the supreme sacrifice for peace. Names of fallen Iona veterans were read and wreaths were laid at the WWII & Korea and Vietnam monuments on the campus quad followed by the playing of Taps. The ceremony came to an end with a moving prayer given by Fr. Frank Dixon and closing remarks.
Iona’s War Dead: Reading of Two Biographies
Robert Elwyn Hunt (1921-1942) grew up in Olean, New York, the son and grandson of ministers. Robert enrolled in Iona College and studied for two months before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in November of 1940. After the U.S entry into World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown was ordered to the South Pacific. Ensign Hunt was serving on board the Yorktown as a Fireman 1st class when his ship engaged Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. On May 8, 1942, Ens. Hunt was killed in action; he was buried at sea the next day. His name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing & Buried at Sea, at the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial in the Philippines, the largest overseas cemetery for U.S. war dead. The cemetery contains the remains of over 17,000 Americans, as well as the names of 36,285 men from the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard who were lost or buried at sea like Ensign Hunt.
Walter Ludwig Hammerschlag (1946-1966) was the first Iona man to make the supreme sacrifice for peace in the Vietnam War. Born and raised in New Rochelle on Hudson St., Walter graduated from Blessed Sacrament High School, Class of ’64. After his freshman year at Iona, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to Vietnam. Pfc. Hammerschlag served as a cook with the headquarters company of the 3/9 – the 3rd Battalion of the 9th Marine Division—in Quang Nam Province. Badly injured in an accident on November 18, he died on December 8, 1966. Pfc. Hammerschlag is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, New Rochelle, and memorialized on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC.
Founded in 1940, Iona College is a four-year private, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers and American Catholic higher education. It is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona offers undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs.
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