CLEMSON — December graduates from Clemson University’s student veteran population were honored Wednesday evening in the annual “Hail and Farewell” ceremony inside the Hendrix Student Center. Thirteen students were presented red, white and blue cords to place over their graduation stoles. The graduates also received a letter from President James P. Clements and a special challenge coin featuring the insignia of all five branches of the military.

Ashley Johnson, president of the Student Veteran Association, pictured with 13 graduating student veterans at the December 2018 "Hail and Farewell" recognition.

Student Veteran Association President Ashley Johnson (left), with 13 Clemson graduates who previously served in the United States armed forces, at the fall 2018 “Hail and Farewell” ceremony.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

“Clemson University is better because of you,” said Clements, through a prepared statement. “We are honored and proud of your success in the service and in the classroom.”

Brennan Beck, Clemson’s director of military and veteran engagement, hosted the 90-minute ceremony inside the David Peebles Room of the Hendrix Center. The graduates were joined by their families and a slew of special guests, including Steve Best of Clemson Corps; David Fleming of the graduate school; Almeda Jacks, vice president for Student Affairs; Ashley Johnson, president of Clemson’s Student Veteran Association; and, Greg Mullen of the Clemson University Police Department.

The evening featured a keynote address from retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmy Mullinax, a 1994 Clemson graduate whose 21 years of service included work as a logistics officer, with air defense artillery and as professor of military leadership at his alma mater. Mullinax currently serves as the director of facilities and operations for Campus Recreation.

Jimmy Mullinax, a U.S. Army veteran with 21 years of service, was the keynote speaker at the fall 2018 "Hail and Farewell" recognition.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmy Mullinax, now director of facilities and operations for Campus Recreation, served as the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s ceremony.
Image Credit: Clemson University Relations

Mullinax spoke for nearly 20 minutes to the graduating student veterans, emphasizing three factors they shared in common. For starters, they all served the United States armed forces in some capacity. Secondly, he and the graduating veterans also experienced the various transitions you go through in life. Finally, Mullinax stressed the bond he shared with the student veterans as members of the Clemson University family.

“I came to Clemson through the ROTC program, and this is where I grew to be a leader,” said Mullinax, who served on deployments to Germany, South Korea and Iraq. “I hope Clemson has impacted you in the same way.”

Mullinax also explained Clemson’s rich military heritage continues today not only through great programs such as Army and Air Force ROTC, but also because of its proud connection to supporting student veterans.

“You all bring so much to this university,” he said, “and I know as you leave, you’ll be able to give back to Clemson. You are what makes this place special and welcoming to the veterans who follow you.”

Click HERE for a full photo gallery.

DECEMBER GRADUATES

Ryan Borem

  • Doctorate in bioengineering
  • Native of Los Angeles, California who served six years of active duty with the U.S. Army as a motor transportation operator
  • Deployed twice to Iraq

Paul Dinndorf

  • Master’s degree in electrical engineering
  • Native of St. Paul, Minnesota who served 10 years of active duty with the U.S. Air Force as a weapon systems officer
  • Deployed twice to Afghanistan

David Durn

  • Master’s degree in business administration
  • Native of Greenville, South Carolina who served five years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps as a special intelligence system administrator
  • Deployed to Bahrain

Jacob Freeland

  • Bachelor’s degree in community, health and wellness
  • Native of Asheville, North Carolina who served four years of active duty with the U.S. Army as a cavalry scout
  • Deployed to Afghanistan

Joseph Hawk

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering
  • Native of Connecticut who served four years of active duty with the U.S. Navy as a nuclear electronic technician
  • Served on the USS Georgia

John King

  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
  • Native of Greenville, South Carolina who served six years of active duty with the U.S. Army as an infantryman
  • Deployed to Afghanistan

Aaron Kotlarz

  • Master’s degree in city and regional planning
  • Native of Jacksonville, Florida who served nine years of active duty with the U.S. Navy in the civil engineering corps
  • Deployed to Japan, where he will return to Okinawa upon graduation as facilities director within its naval hospital

Roger Martel

  • Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering
  • Native of Berkshire, Vermont who served six years of active duty with the U.S. Air Force as a crew chief; later a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Stacy Mettlach

  • Bachelor’s degrees in language and international trade and German
  • Native of Seneca, South Carolina who served with the U.S. Air Force as a traffic management officer
  • Deployed to Germany and served on assignment in South Korea

Amanda Nicks

  • Bachelor’s degree in community, health and wellness
  • Native of Lewiston, Michigan who served five years of active duty with the U.S. Navy
  • Deployed to the Bahamas

Lizz Sampson

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a minor in equine therapy
  • Native of Six Mile, South Carolina has served five years as a medic in the Air Force Reserves
  • Former president and treasurer of Clemson’s Student Veteran Association

Benjamin Wojack

  • Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
  • Native of Cheshire, Connecticut who served four years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps as a flight mechanic
  • Deployed to the Horn of Africa