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Iowa State honors three alumni at 2023 Gold Star Hall Ceremony

Air+Force+Lt.+Col.+Eric+Lopez+talking+with+the+crowd+at+the+Gold+Star+Hall+Ceremony+event+in+the+Memorial+Unions+Great+Hall+on+Nov.+6%2C+2023.
Joseph Dicklin
Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Lopez talking with the crowd at the Gold Star Hall Ceremony event in the Memorial Union’s Great Hall on Nov. 6, 2023.

The Memorial Union hosted the 2023 Gold Star Hall Ceremony on Monday, honoring three former Iowa State students who lost their lives in military service.

The ceremony was held in the Durham Great Hall and featured personal stories about those honored. The honorees include Army Air Force Capt. Thomas Henry Delamore, Marine Corps Capt. Alfred Hiram Agan and Army 1st Lt. James Lee Miller. Their names are engraved in the Gold Star Hall at the entrance of the Memorial Union.

President Wendy Wintersteen spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the importance of the Gold Star Hall to Iowa State.

“Gold Star Hall stands as a living memorial to nearly 600 Iowa Staters who died serving World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia and the global war on terrorism. We are deeply indebted to all those who answered the call to serve,” Wintersteen said.

Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Lopez, the commander of the Air Force ROTC at Iowa State, said it was important to remember those recognized in the Gold Star Hall.

“Because of the committee and ceremonies like this one today, we get to know who they were, what they did and the legacy they left behind. The towering limestone walls with numerous names engraved on them remind me of the permanence of the sacrifice they made,” Lopez said.

Air Force SSGT. Madison Lihs, a student veteran, president of the Student Veterans of America chapter at Iowa State and senior in history, said being a student veteran or prior student service member is a unique position.

“We might struggle to re-adjust and be students again. We might be older than our peers and we might think a lot differently,” Lihs said.

The ceremony featured a remembrance of the honorees by former service members. This included a reading of the biographies of each honoree, read by retired Navy Cmdr. Daniel A. Buhr, retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Daniel P. Divine and Marine Corps Sgt. Jeremy A. Jacobsen.

Delamore, born Dec. 26, 1912, in Clare, Iowa, graduated from Ames High School in 1930 before attending the Culver Military Academy in Indiana. Between 1931 and 1938, Delamore attended Iowa State, earning a commission in the ROTC program. Delamore served as an Army engineer in the Philippines during WWII, where he was tasked with destroying military equipment to prevent Japanese advancement. Delamore was taken prisoner after the Japanese invasion in April 1942 until December 1944. Upon transport to Japan, the ship carrying Delamore and 1,600 other military prisoners was attacked. Records indicate Delamore was killed during this attack, but his remains were unable to be identified. Therefore, he is still unaccounted for. His death is recorded as Jan. 9, 1945. Delamore was awarded various medals, including the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.

Agan, born July 6, 1919, in Chariton, Iowa, attended Iowa State from 1942 to 1948. Agan received a scholarship for his work with the Des Moines Register and Tribune as a salesperson. He entered the military in December 1942, serving as a pilot in the Marine Corps in the Pacific during WWII. Following his discharge in 1945, Agan returned to Iowa State, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering. He worked at an architectural firm after graduation but reenlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve as a captain shortly after. Three weeks into the Korean War, in Sept. 1950, Agan was called back into active service. He became a pilot with Marine Fighter Squadron 212, also known as the Black Sheep squadron. On Jan. 20, 1951, while flying to Japan for maintenance, Agan was forced to evacuate the aircraft into the ocean 11 miles south of Incheon, Korea. Agan was found dead by a rescue crew following the evacuation, likely due to injuries suffered in the crash. His death is recorded as Jan. 20, 1951, in South Korea. Agan was awarded multiple medals, including the Purple Heart and the National Defense Service Medal.

Miller, born June 24, 1943, in Maquoketa, Iowa, attended Iowa State from 1961 to 1962. While at Iowa State, Miller was enrolled in the College of Agriculture and was a member of the Army ROTC. Shortly after, he moved to Maryland to work construction while attending Catonsville Community College. In 1966, Miller received an official Army commission. Before deploying to Vietnam, Miller visited his brother John at Iowa State who was in his sophomore year. This was the last time the two saw each other. While coming under heavy mortar fire and suffering multiple casualties to his platoon, Miller moved forward to take command of the remaining troops. During this maneuver, Miller endured major shrapnel wounds while trying to save another officer. He died on Dec. 14, 1967, receiving the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Miller was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, and his name is listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Following the ceremony, the families of the honorees received a coin from the Memorial Union thanking them for their loved one’s service. The coin features the words, “For thee, they died” on one side, accompanied by a gold star. The other side reads, “Iowa State University: Learning to return services to those who served us.”

For more information, visit the Memorial Union’s Gold Star Hall website, which features an online database with the names and stories of each veteran listed on the wall.

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  • T

    Theo Franz | Nov 8, 2023 at 10:55 am

    Amazing job capturing their stories (and not having Oxford commas)

    Reply
  • J

    John Tack | Nov 7, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    Well written.

    Reply