WKU observed Veterans Day on Thursday (Nov. 11) with a ceremony at the Guthrie Tower, a site dedicated to freedom and those who gave their lives defending it.
“Every generation has paid a price for freedom,” said LTC Jason T. Caldwell, head of WKU’s Department of Military Science and Leadership.
In September, WKU ROTC graduate Eric Yates died after being wounded in Afghanistan. 1LT Yates of Rineyville served in the Army’s 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell.
In reflecting on Yates’ sacrifice and the support his family received during memorials at WKU and in Hardin County, “I could not have been more proud of the reception Eric Yates and his family received,” Caldwell said.
“I was not only proud of Eric that day but I was proud of America.”
Following a wreath laying to honor and remember all veterans and the playing of “Taps,” WKU’s Army ROTC program conducted its Hall of Fame ceremony with the induction of Brigadier General Omer C. “Butch” Tooley Jr.
Tooley graduated from WKU in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Studies and received his commission in the United States Army, Infantry, through the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. A four-year ROTC scholarship recipient, he always demanded more of himself than anyone under his command. His classmates described him as a natural leader, mature beyond his years. Upholding excellence, he graduated from WKU with the prestigious title of Distinguished Military Graduate.
After completing Ranger and Pathfinder schools, he earned a Master’s of Science Degree in Adult and Continuing Education from University of Southern California.
Tooley currently serves as both the Commander of Camp Atterbury’s Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations and the Assistant Adjutant General for the Indiana National Guard. His previous key assignments include Executive Officer, 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light) Operation Restore Hope, Somalia; Commander, 2nd Battalion 325th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), Fort Campbell; Deputy G3, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT), Fort Campbell; Chief of Staff, 38th Field Training Group, Indianapolis; Chief of Staff, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis; and Director of Joint Operations, Military Department of Indiana, Indianapolis.