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Holiday Mail Call for Heroes

Sophomore Shadayvia Wallace and freshman Mike Fisher sign cards for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Some people complain about sending holiday cards.

However, others, like the Keuka College faculty, staff and students who took part in the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, cherish the experience.

Some 570 members of the College community signed cards that could be sent to veterans and active-duty service personnel at Fort Drum, Togus VA Medical Center, Camp Leatherneck, Sigonella Naval Air Station, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other U.S. military installations or hospitals.

“This is the time of year where we can recognize those that may not be able to spend the holidays with their friends and family,” said Paulette Willemsen, secretary in the Divison of Social Work. “This is something we can do to help bring them some holiday cheer.”

The College campaign was sponsored by the Staff Advisory Council’s (SAC) Events Committee, co-chaired by Willemsen and BJ Hill, office manager for student affairs.

“We wanted to recognize active service members as well as veterans,” said Michelle Radcliffe, administrative assistant in the Center for Global Education and member of the Events Committee, who indicated that “our campus is home to several active-duty service members and veterans.”

Sandy Miller, instructional resource coordinator in the Wertman Office of Distance Education and committee member, wanted to participate because “Keuka promotes community involvement and experiential education, and we thought this was good way to do both.”

Those who took part were asked to write a short message and sign their name on a card, said Hill.

Junior Courtney Lyon adds her name to a holiday card.

“This is a good way to let our servicemen and women know that we remember them at the holidays,” she said.

Senior Melissa Garcia agrees.

“It is good to show the troops that they are not forgotten during the holiday season, and that we appreciate them,” said the ASL-English interpreting major from Keuka Park.

In addition to writing messages and signing their names, many members of the campus community donated cards.

College Pays Tribute to Veterans

Associate Professor of History Chris Leahy.

Keuka College marked Veterans Day with a presentation by Chris Leahy, associate professor of history and a prayer of remembrance by Rev. Eric Detar, College chaplain.

Members of the Penn Yan VFW sounded a 21-gun salute and played Taps at the end of the service held Nov. 9 at the World War II memorial.

Leahy’s remarks follow:

“Sixteen million men and women served for the United States in some military capacity in World War II; 10 million men served in combat. These men are dying at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day.

“1, 789,000 served in combat during the Korean War; these men are also dying at a rapid rate.

“8,744,000 served in combat in Vietnam; 698,000 men and women served during the first Persian Gulf War.

“1,048,844 troops have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. One-third of them served more than one tour. Of course, men and women are combat veterans now.

“Our veterans hold a special place in the hearts of many Americans—indeed, should hold a special place in the hearts of all Americans.

“When Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, addressed the troops on June 6, 1944, as he launched Operation Overload, the Normandy invasion of D-Day, he spoke simply.

“’Full victory—nothing else,’ he said.

“The brave men who stormed the beaches that day and made their way to the cliffs overlooking those beaches, took those words to heart. Forty years later, on the anniversary of that day, President Ronald Reagan was in Normandy. He honored these men with an eloquent and moving speech.

Members of the Penn Yan VFW helped mark Veterans Day on campus.

“’These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc,’” he said. ‘These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.’”

“He told them: ‘Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

“’The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge—and pray God we have not lost it—that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.’

From left: students Phillip Longyear and John B. Miller, as well as College staff members John Locke, Dale Mosher, and Jim Blackburn were honored for their service to our country. They each received a red carnation.

“President Reagan spoke these words to the World War II veterans who fought so valiantly on D-Day. But he could well have spoken them to veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, or the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“As could these words, again, forcefully spoken by President Reagan:

The College's World War II memorial.

“’You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.’

“Reagan concluded his speech with words that could and should inspire us, as Americans, as we honor our veterans:

“’Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value [valor], and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.’

“Veterans of foreign wars, thank you for your service to our country.”

Math and Munitions, the Business of the Military

How does a Keuka degree fit into daily military life?

Maddox '07, right, is sworn in as a USAF Captain.

Just ask U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Maddox ’07, who graduated with a B.A. in math and a B.S. in business management, and now serves as operations officer for the U.S. Air Force 52nd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, which includes four officers and 461 enlisted airmen at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. Maddox is second-in-command to the squadron commander.

“I handle operations and she handles the personnel—the pats on the back and the kicks in the butt, so to speak,” he said. “We provide munitions support and we do maintenance. Let’s say after flying, a part gets damaged and needs repair. We repair it through metal fabrication.”

In addition, the squadron handles what Maddox calls “deep tissue maintenance,” such that after every 400 flight hours logged by a particular plane, it will spend from 7-20 days in the base hangar getting stripped down for  more intensive analysis or repairs.

Maddox supervises logistics, storage, supply chain management and more for Air Force munitions, like this bomb, at his base in Germany.

“As far as business is concerned, maintenance and munitions is pretty much like any other business. We have a product, a process, customers, logistics, and a supply chain. I market my product to my customers – other squadrons – so they get what they want and I’m able to supply it. It’s almost a direct correlation [to business].” (more…)

Military Friendly 4 Years in a Row

For the fourth year in a row, Keuka College has received national recognition for its commitment to educating veterans and military members.

Keuka was designated a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, the premier entity for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The 2013 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that “are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans, and spouses as students and ensure their success on campus.”

The Military Friendly Schools media and website ( feature the list, interactive tools, and search capability to help military students find the best school to suit their needs and preferences.

The list was compiled through extensive research and a date-driven survey of more than 12,000 VA-approved schools nationwide.

A story and detailed list of 2013 Military Friendly Schools will be highlighted in the annual G.I. Jobs Guide to Military Friendly Schools, distributed in print and digital form in October to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel.

Victory Media is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business. In addition to G.I. Jobs, it also publishes Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines.

Social Work Student a “Bright Star”

Greg Shoff has had more than a little experience helping people.

A military veteran, Shoff served six years with the U.S. Coast Guard in places such as Florida, Mississippi, Oregon and Washington, often providing disaster relief after hurricane season, helping to rebuild schools and community centers, or assisting mobile medical teams with setting up clinics.

Often, Shoff found himself working with at-risk or troubled youth from families in hard-hit communities, showing them “how to use certain tools, to look out for someone else and connect with that community instead of feel [pushed] away,” he said.

“You recognize that communities need an extra hand with youth at times, and a few of us would always link up with the kids and work to show them what it means to give back,” he said.

Shoff never expected to do what he calls “the humanitarian side” of social work in the Coast Guard, but his passion for it led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field, which he will receive Sunday from Keuka College. Along the way, the Penn Yan resident earned a special distinction, receiving a student Social Worker of the Year Award from a regional chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. (more…)

College Honors Veterans, Those Serving Now

Keuka College honored current military servicemen and women and those who served in past wars and foreign conflicts Friday in a ceremony marking Veterans Day.

Members of the Yates County VFW perform a Presentation of Arms during the Veteran's Day service Nov. 11.

“Today, we pay tribute to the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, including those nurses who were trained at Keuka College. The College’s nursing program was created in response to the need for nurses in World War II,” said President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera in a welcome at Norton Chapel.

First known as Armistice Day, the nation marked the laying down of arms that took place on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, following the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. President Woodrow Wilson, feeling the weight of his decision to send American “doughboys” into battle in Europe, asked citizens a year later to honor the sacrifice of their fellow countrymen with solemn pride, said Chris Leahy, associate professor of history.

“Wilson envisioned that every Nov. 11 from that point forward would see parades throughout the small towns and big cities of the United States, and a brief suspension of business at 11 a.m.,” Leahy said.

In 1938, it became a federal holiday, but not until 1953 was a name change proposed, Leahy said. After Kansas shoe store owner Al King began a campaign to recognize all veterans, not just those from World War I, a Kansas Congressman introduced a federal bill, which was signed into law in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower. Thus, it officially became known as Veterans Day.

Professor of History Sander Diamond described the stately precision with which the 22 domestic and 24 overseas cemetery battlefields or memorials are kept in tribute of those who gave their lives. In 1921, one more tradition, that of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was begun when Sgt. Edward Younger first placed a spray of white roses on the third of four caskets of unidentified American soldiers placed in a row at a city hall not far from the Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France. The casket Younger chose was taken by ship for burial at Washington’s Arlington National Cemetery, where other unknown soldiers have been buried alongside it, he said.

Diamond noted that the last two World War I veterans, American Frank Buckles and England’s Harry Patch, both died at age 110 this year. Since America’s first war, the War for Independence, some 2,489,335 men and women have given their lives for their country, including 3,542 in Iraq and 1,425 in Afghanistan, where military conflicts are not yet resolved. And many who serve come back home with horrific wounds, both physical and psychological, from disfigurement to mental problems once called “shell-shock” but known today as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), he added.

“It is now up to us and our government to see to it that our most recent veterans have their needs met, no matter what the cost, even in this era of cost-cutting,” Diamond said, drawing parallels between the Keuka mission, which stresses “service above self,” and the mindset of many veterans and family members who wait for their return home.

“We are mindful that American service men and women are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan.  This gives Veterans Day more immediacy, more poignancy,” said Leahy, adding that it was important to honor and remember the brave women, as well as men, who have served.

The event closed with a prayer of remembrance, led by College Chaplain Rev. Eric Detar and a Presentation of Arms by an honor guard from the Yates County VFW, Post 745, at Keuka’s World War II monument, which stands near Lightner Library.

“We cannot fully repay those who gave up two lives, the life they were living and the life they would have lived,” said Detar.

Check out more photos from the service.

Military Friendly – Again

For the third straight year, Keuka College has received national recognition for its commitment to educating veterans and military members.

Keuka was designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs, the premier magazine for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. The 2012 Military Friendly Schools list honors the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that “are doing the most to embrace America’s military service members and veterans as students.”

The list will appear in the “Guide to Military Friendly Schools,” which will be published by G.I. Jobs next month. It can also be found at, as can a survey of student veterans, which G.I. Jobs incorporated for the first time.

The list was compiled through extensive research and a data driven survey of more than 8,000 schools nationwide. Methodology, criteria, and weighting were developed with the assistance of an academic advisory board, consisting of educators from schools across the country.

G.I. Jobs ( is published by Victory Media, a veteran-owned business that also publishes Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines, and annually rates the nation’s “Military Friendly Employers,” “Military Spouse Friendly Employers,” and “Best Corporations for Veteran-Owned Businesses.”

In Her Own Words: A Survivor’s Story

On Sept. 11, 2001, 189 people were killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Betty Maxfield, a 1965 Keuka College graduate, survived.

“The realization that I was standing near individuals who failed to make it out of the building made me question why I survived and they did not,” said Maxfield, chief of Army Demographics in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel in the Pentagon.

To assist her in “psychologically adjusting” to the incident, it was suggested that she write down her thoughts and memories.

Here is what Maxfield wrote Sept. 15, 2001: (more…)

Admissions Counselor Aids Families After Irene

Charles Ackley Jr. of Walworth comes to the rescue on a regular basis.

1st Lt. Charles Ackley Jr., right, stands in dress blues with fellow Army National Guard Ron Puryear.

Often, Ackley, an assistant director of admissions counseling, helps answer questions for high school students and their families as they consider whether Keuka may be the college where they want to earn their degree. He’ll visit high schools, malls hosting college fairs, and so on, offering information on courses of study, campus life and walking the student and family through the entire admissions process.

So when Ackley’s Army National Guard air aviation unit was called up for a service mission to aid victims of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene earlier this week, the coincidence was not lost that his unit was sent to aid the same region where Ackley’s college recruiting takes place.

Prattsville, N.Y., a town of about 700 people, lies south of Albany in the Catskill Mountains, Greene County, and was one of the state’s hardest hit by Irene’s heavy rains and wind, suffering massive flooding that swept away homes, obliterated bridges and nearly wiped the town off the map. Flooding was so severe that the Schoharie Creek, which runs through Prattsville, rose nearly 20 feet over several hours Sunday. The national news spotlight hit the tiny town when the U.S. National Guard rescued 21 people trapped on the second floor of a small motel amid rising floodwaters.

Ackley’s crew, part of the Fox Company, 1st Division 169th regiment, was stationed out of the Albany airport, logging 14-hour shifts to aid storm victims in Prattsville. His crew flew Black Hawk helicopters from Rochester to Albany, arriving Sunday to begin serving.

Ackley, far right at cockpit door, looks on while the Black Hawk is loaded with supplies by Sgt. Larry Sloan, left, and Sgt. Jason Dolan, center. Image courtesy NYS Division Military and Naval Affairs.


Class Act

Keuka College’s Class of 2011 will receive degrees at the College’s 103rd commencement Sunday, May 29.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. on the Norton Chapel lawn (Weed Physical Arts Center in case of inclement weather).

General Peter Pace

General Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will deliver the

commencement address and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Pace was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and grew up in Teaneck, N.J. Among his junior and senior high school teachers, one of his favorites and the one who had lasting impact was Marion Cutler, a 1952 graduate of Keuka College, who died March 24.

Marion Cutler

“He was my student in English 8 and in my ninth grade group guidance class,” recalled Cutler in a letter to classmates on the occasion of her 50th Keuka reunion. “Even then I knew that his bright future was assured because he exhibited only the best qualities.”

Cutler and Pace, who retired from active duty in October 2007 after more than 40 years of service in the United States Marine Corps, stayed in touch over the years and were scheduled to be reunited at Keuka’s commencement. Cutler was also slated to receive an honorary degree but died March 24. The degree will now be awarded posthumously.