A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses
National hero and commander of the Green Beret team Mark Nutsch was the Veterans Day headliner on East Campus on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. An audience of faculty members, students and community members warmly welcomed Mark, the commander who led a team into Afghanistan during America’s darkest days following the 9/11 attacks. His team led the charge that helped overthrow the Taliban.
Mark explained that, on this Veterans Day 18 years ago, he conducted a mission to retake Afghanistan from the Taliban government, a historic mission in American history. An expert horseback rider from America’s heartland, Mark shared that he grew up on a farm and participated in rodeos, which helped him lead a 12-man unit through some of Afghanistan’s roughest terrain and reclaim one of Afghanistan’s northern cities. He described the struggles and triumphs of his unit named, Operation Enduring Freedom, which successfully accomplished their mission with every man surviving.
Mark’s amazing journey has been recounted in the book called “Horse Soldiers,” and in a movie named “12 Strong.” He chuckled as he remarked that he was thrilled that Chris Hemsworth portrayed him in the movie, since they looked so similar … not to mention his children were elated to meet the star.
The honor celebration opened with the University of Central Florida’s color guard, and Vice President of Student Affairs Joe Richardson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.
This event was made possible by Professors of Humanities Sean Lake and Julie Montione, who wrote a National Endowment for the Humanities Dialogues on the Experience of War grant. This program supports the use of humanities texts to create space for veteran students to discuss their service and homecoming. Click here for information on the grant.
Veterans Awareness and Appreciation Day was also celebrated on the Winter Park Campus, where employees and students honored area veterans. Military personnel from various branches visited the campus on Thursday, November 7, 2019, to discuss military careers and answer questions. Faculty and staff members and students wrote letters to veterans from their preferred branch of service, while Wellness Ambassadors displayed a Dress for Success table with examples of appropriate work attire and shared best practice interview information.