Iowa State ceremony honors soldiers who were killed in action

Lt. Col. Michael Hanson, Iowa State alumn and 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force, spoke to the audience of the Gold Star Hall Ceremony on Nov. 11.

Logan Metzger

As part of the Veterans Day celebrations at Iowa State, the Gold Star Ceremony took place Monday.

In the Great Hall of the Memorial Union, people young and old gathered to hear the stories of four former Iowa State students who died serving in the United States military.

The ceremony started off with a presentation of the Colors by the ROTC color guard and the singing of the National Anthem by ROTC cadets Tanner Manning, senior in English, and Kevin Schlotfeldt, senior in animal ecology.

Then Steve Winfrey, director of the Memorial Union, addressed the attendees. He talked about a coin each of the families of the former students would be receiving at the event.

“On one side of the coin is a gold star and the words ‘for thee they died,’ reminding us of those who have gone before us,” Winfrey said. “On the other side are the words ‘Iowa State University’ and the motto ‘learning to return services to those who served us.’ It is meant to serve as a reminder that these honorees are always a part of us.”

After that, a video recording of Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen was played.

“We often hear that freedom is not free and it is at times such as this that we should pause and reflect on that sobering yet important truth,” Wintersteen said.

Lt. Col. Michael Hanson, Iowa State alumn and 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force, was next up to speak.

“Iowa State veterans have made our university proud,” Hanson said. “The four men we honor today from two wars help us understand the why of courage and service. Each of our veterans has our own why. Although each of these students chose to serve for different reasons, their dedication to our country was the same and through their stories we honor their memory.”

Next to speak was William Reinig, junior in political science and veteran who served for eight years. Reinig’s speech started out humorously but quickly got serious.

“Never, I will never ever forget,” Reinig said. I will allow the memories of everything else in my life to fall away before I relinquish that hold on the memories of my fallen brothers. That I should live when such men died burdened me with the honor and responsibility to remember them.”

Army Lt. Col. Jeremy Paul spoke about John Fuller.

In 1938, Fuller came to Iowa State University to major in general engineering. Here, he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity, he was a member of the band and he was the leading editor of Iowa State’s yearbook, “The Bomb.”

After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Fuller enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on Jan. 15, 1942.

In August 1943, Fuller was deployed to England as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division — known as the “Screaming Eagle Battalion.”

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 — D-Day — the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions flew toward France with the goal of dropping 6,600 paratroopers behind enemy lines to establish a beachhead from which they would capture Cherbourg, France.

Anti-aircraft artillery was intense, forcing flight formations from their original paths. This turn of events resulted in dispersed drops that forced mixed bands of troops to try to continue the mission. Despite this setback, the Screaming Eagles took Cherbourg.

By December 1944, the German army appeared near defeat, but on Dec. 18, 1944, Germany launched a counteroffensive against allied forces in Western Europe.

Eight German divisions surrounded the Screaming Eagles during the Battle of the Bulge. They were bombarded with artillery. On Dec. 23, 1944, six days into the counteroffensive, Fuller was killed near Bastogne, Belgium.

He was temporarily buried in Europe, but his body was returned to a permanent resting place in Fairview Cemetery in Cedar Falls on Feb. 5, 1949.

Retired Navy Capt. Paul Fuligni spoke about Schuyler Wheeler.

Wheeler enrolled in Boone Junior College before starting at Iowa State to major in dairy industry, just as a new milking parlor had finished construction on campus. He took a job at a creamery in Peoria, Illinois, until he joined the U.S. Army on July 12, 1942.

After two years of intensive training at Fort Scott, Illinois, Tech. Sgt. Wheeler was deployed to France on Aug. 1, 1944, as a member of the 95th Infantry Division of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army.

Wheeler’s division helped to establish the first bridgeheads across the Moselle River. These provided passage into Eastern France in preparation for the eventual assault on mainland Germany.

On Dec. 15, 1944, the day before the Battle of the Bulge began, Wheeler’s division established bridgeheads across the Saar River in preparation for an assault on German troops in Ensdorf, Germany.

As Wheeler entered the city, trying to help liberate it, he was killed by German machine gunfire. He was 29 years old.

After a temporary burial in Europe, Wheeler’s body was returned to Boone to be permanently laid to rest in Mackey Cemetery.

Retired Marine Corp Lt.Col. Daniel Devine spoke about Meredith Winter.

Winter came to Iowa State University in 1938 to study chemistry and worked as a janitor and in a campus cafeteria to earn money to pay for college.

He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in September 1943. While Winter technically received his bachelor’s degree that December, he wasn’t at the ceremony due to being ordered to active duty.

Winter arrived in Guam as part of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 21st Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, where he was tasked with patrolling against Japanese forces.

On Feb. 19, 1945, after two months of naval bombardment, approximately 70,000 Marines led the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Two days later, Winter became one of them as the 3rd Marine Division landed on Yellow Beach.

On Feb. 28, 1945, two days after his 26th birthday, Winter and five other Marines were killed by a Japanese mortar during heavy fighting. The Battle of Iwo Jima is one of the bloodiest in Marine Corps history, claiming the lives of 7,000 Americans.

Winter was initially buried in the 3rd Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima. On May 5, 1948, his body was returned to Dysart, Iowa, for permanent burial.

Retired Navy Cdr. Daniel Buhr spoke about Kennith Tapscott.

Tapscott was born Nov. 9, 1945, in Charleston, South Carolina. He came to Iowa State in 1963 on a Navy ROTC scholarship.

During Tapscott’s final semester at Iowa State, he fell in love with Jan Boyle. He was delighted when he found out Boyle was pregnant, but never got to meet his daughter due to being killed in action.

In 1970, the United States was in the midst of the Vietnam War. The sight of anti-war protests upset Tapscott, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Tapscott began his tour on June 3, 1970, as a member of the Riverboat Squadron as a Naval Intelligence Liason Officer (NILO).

A month later, he participated in the counteroffensive launched by American and South Vietnamese forces. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam, backed by U.S. troops, tried to cut off the line of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that ran through Laos. This counteroffensive coincided with the measured withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.

On Aug. 6, 1970, Tapscott was on patrol near Song Ong Doc in South Vietnam when his unit was ambushed, and he was killed when a B-40 rocket struck him in the chest. He was one of only three NILOs lost during the entire Vietnam war.

The ceremony closed with a moment of silence for the honorees, followed by Echo Taps and retrieval of the Colors.