ROCK HILL — They were just doing their jobs thats what soldiers will often tell you if you thank them for their service.
Thats what retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Frank Walker told a small crowd gathered at Winthrop University on Thursday. Walker, a Rock Hill native, is a highly decorated former rotary wing pilot now living in Lake Wylie.
He and the Winthrop Student Veterans Association took the lead in honoring military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.
The soldiers might have just been doing their jobs, Walker said, but their jobs and sacrifice have given us all our freedom.
Im not a hero, he said. But Ive served with many heroes and many sheros.
Student veterans read the names of 277 men and women from the Carolinas killed in action during the U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Michael Widrich, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran and president of the student veteran group, said they read the names to remember their lives and what could have been.
The remembrance ceremony was a way to honor all military veterans, Walker said, and to ensure no one forgets that valor is courage of the soul.
These men and women are not asking for recognition, he said.
And we should be pouring it out.
All 277 soldiers on the list are brothers and sisters in the eyes of Winthrops student veterans, Widrich said.
For the groups staff adviser Bill Cabaniss, an Air Force veteran, reading one name in particular was more personal than the rest.
Cabaniss served with U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Shawn Hill, of Wellford, who was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 2, 2008.
Now Winthrops director of health and counseling services, Cabaniss was a military physicians assistant in Afghanistan, often riding in Humvees along dangerous stretches of road, laden with roadside bombs.
On his turn to read a part of the long list of soldiers killed in war, Cabaniss said Hill was the best damn gunner Ive ever had on a convoy.
Cabaniss and others began reading the names at 11 a.m. Thursday the time the armistice went into effect to end World War I in 1918.
Winthrop has 100 student veterans enrolled at the university.
Thursdays event was part of a nationwide remembrance. Volunteers at more than 100 colleges and universities across the nation read the names of more than 6,600 casualties of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Anna Douglas 803-329-4068