Four servicemen alumni honored at annual ceremony

The family of Wheeler Brooks poses with a picture of him during the Gold Star Hall ceremony honoring Iowa State students who have passed while fighting at war. The event was held at the Memorial Union on Nov. 6.

Sara Petersen

Eighty-nine years ago, the Memorial Union opened to honor fallen servicemen who attended Iowa State. Today, those names are still remembered in the Gold Star Hall.

Names from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the USS Liberty, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan are engraved into the limestone. Each year, Iowa State students who lost their lives are inducted into the Gold Star Hall with the engraving of their names and the sharing of their stories.

This year’s ceremony inducted World War II serviceman Robert Geoffroy, and Vietnam servicemen Wheeler Brooks, Jeffrey Krommenhoek and James McGough. Geoffroy and Brooks both lost their lives in battle.

Krommenhoek was declared missing in action for years, until a search was conducted and no evidence was found. Krommenhoek was then declared deceased.

McGough had a blood transplant in Vietnam after encountering a grenade explosion, contracted Hepatitis C from the transplant, and passed away at the age of 62.

The ceremony started with the presentation of the colors by the ROTC color guard and the singing of the National Anthem by Iowa State student Nicklas Day. Then speeches were given by Director of the Memorial Union Steve Winfrey, Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert, Army Lt. Col. Ethan Dial and student veteran Derek Zobler.

“Their lives provide inspiration to each of us,” Lt. Col. Ethan Dial said about the four new inductees. “We are truly fortunate to live in a country that is grounded in values, and a country that is protected by men and women who live these values, and love the freedoms and rights of our fellow citizens.”

Many people attended this event, including families and friends of the four inductees. Citizens and students from all over came to hear the incredible stories. Some have been going ever since the event first started; for others, it was their first time.

“I’ve been coming to this event every year,” said Jeff Cesler, program assistant for the athletic department. “I love coming because I have a great respect for the military and what they do.”

Cesler brought his two sons this year to hear the stories.

“I’d love to see them grow to have the same respect for the military,” he said.

As for Vickie Klinkhammer, this was her first time attending the Gold Star Hall Ceremony. She is an auxiliary member, and has had family members serve in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

“I think this event really brings closure to the friends and families,” she said. “It really tears at your heart to think about how young some of these men were when they were killed in battle.”

Klinkhammer also said that even though the event was sad, it was also a very good way to remember the fallen servicemen.

“The greatest part is that you get to hear all the life stories of these men, and you get to hear where they came from and what they accomplished. It’s a great way to honor them.”

Attendees of the Gold Star Hall Ceremony were invited to step into the Gold Star Hall after the ceremony and view all of the names written on the walls.

Families of the four fallen servicemen were given special recognition during the ceremony and were available to talk to other attendees after the ceremony.