Gold Star Induction celebrates years of ISU veteran service

Zach Carpenter, a member of the Air Force ROTC, marches in formation at the end of the Gold Star Hall Ceremony. The event, which took place on Nov. 11, honored five ISU alumni who died while serving in the United States’ military.

Wendy Cardwell

Sherry Lee King remembers her brother Doug King as being a daredevil who lived on the dangerous side.

She also remembers him as being an outstanding individual, who’s life was taken too soon at the young age of 22.

“Doug was such a great person, even though I was two years older then him, we’ve always been so close. Nobody realizes how young these kids are as they leave to serve our country,” King said.

Doug King was recognized along with four other fallen former ISU students who served in the military at the Gold Star Induction in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Veterans Day.

Maurice “Moe” Raskin served in World War II and Jerry Leroy Converse was involved in the USS Liberty. Charles “Doug” King and Donald Lee Sparks served in Vietnam.

Each honoree’s story was shared with the more than 200-member audience, which included family and friends of the fallen.

“This is the first year family members of each fallen person who was honored attended the service,” said Kristin Erdman, coordinator of the event. “One of our honorees passed away in May, so it’s been six months to the day,” Erdman said. “His family sent out invites to the event, which had 30 members. We were really blessed. We had so many family members embrace the event.”

That man was Deric Rasmussen, who died May 11, 2014, in a non-combat incident while serving as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot.

Rasmussen attended Iowa State from 1999-2001. He enlisted in 2003, and initially served in Marine Corps signal intelligence.

He left behind his loving family, which included his wife and three children. His children are 3 years old, 2 years old and 8 months old as of November 2013. At the time of his death, he was 49 days away from coming home.

For Shannon Geisinger, former high school friend of Rasmussen’s, the Gold Star Hall Ceremony was a form of closure.

“It was so great from the sense we weren’t able to attend his previous memorial services,” Geisinger said. “Being able to come was a good way to feel like we completed the circle. Deric really did pay the ultimate price and help serve our country.”

Gold Star Hall is the memorium in the Memorial Union. When the Memorial Union opened in 1928, the names of individuals who attended Iowa State and died in World War I were carved into the walls.

In World War I, when a family had a son or daughter in the service, they displayed a card with a blue star in their window. When a life was lost, the card with the blue star was changed to a gold star, which created the name Gold Star Hall.

These names were all people who served in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia as well as Iraq. Gold Star Hall is the memorium that the entire building represents.

“When I was asked to speak today, it felt like an honor,” said Matt Johnson, an ISU student who is also a veteran. “Celebrating Veterans Day is about the recognition of those who have sacrificed, those who have paid the ultimate price. I hope when I was speaking I emphasized how I felt about recognizing them and how important it is to reflect on that.”

To be included in the Gold Star Hall, individuals must be a current or former ISU student, cause of death must be directly related to a military operation and must have served in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy or Marines. There are now about 6,000 names adorning the walls of Gold Star Hall.

“Today on Veterans Day, we must remember the sacrifice of all veterans,” said Lieutenant Richard Smith, professor of military science and tactics. “The sacrifice of missed births, birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings and school plays. That’s the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s rejoice in the freedom we do have, and with that I say thank you.”