Nov. 4, 2011
The University of Texas will be saluting American troops past and present in honor of Veterans Recognition Day as the Longhorns host Texas Tech at Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium on November 5. The Veterans Committee will be recognizing three members of the Longhorn family; Lieutenant John C. Morgan, Colonel Neel E. Kearby and Lieutenant Russell Steindam who have all earned the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Morgan attended UT in 1934. As a Flight Officer in the U.S. Army during World War II, his Bomb Squadron was flying a mission off the coast of Germany when enemy fighters attacked the B17 aircraft he was co-piloting. His co-pilot was fatally wounded and most of the crew seriously injured. Lt. Morgan took control of the crippled aircraft, pulled it back into formation, and with one hand on the control and the other supporting his wounded co-pilot, flew for two hours, successfully completing the mission. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 18, 1943 for this heroic act.
Kearby earned a Bachelor of Administration from UT in 1937. As a Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he led a flight of four P-47 aircraft into an attack on 48 enemy planes. Despite the odds, Col. Kearby shot down several enemy aircraft in quick succession. He continued to lead the fight even as the enemy staged multiple attacks on his aircraft. Returning home with his group intact, Kearby scored six kills, the largest number of kills scored by any American pilot in a single day. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, presented to him by Gen. Douglas McArthur on January 6, 1944.
Steindam earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UT in 1968. A native of Austin, he joined the U.S. Army in 1968 and was deployed to Vietnam as a First Lieutenant one year later. On February 1, 1970, Lt. Steindam was leading a night attack when his platoon was attacked by heavily artillery. While still returning fire, he began carrying his wounded men into a shallow crater. An enemy grenade landed in the crater and without hesitation, Steindam shouted a warning and threw himself on the grenade, absorbing the explosion and saving the lives of all the soldiers in the immediate area. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on December 16, 1971.
The Army's 82nd Airborne All-American Free Fall Demonstration team will commence the pre-game ceremonies as four jumpers will skydive onto the field to present the USA flag, Texas flag, UT flag and the game ball. SFC Jeff Schafer from Ackley, Iowa who served in two combat tours, will lead the jump. SGT Charles Poteet of Memphis, Tennessee who also served in two combat tours will follow him. The third jumper will be Los Angeles native SFC Will Fleming who enlisted in two combat tours. SFC Darrell Owens of Conowingo, Maryland will conclude the jump and he has served one combat tour.
At this time, the Veterans committee will pay their tributes to the three former UT heroes. In their honor, the Longhorn Band will perform "God Bless America" prior to the National Anthem, as the "Fallen Soldiers Tribute" video montage will be displayed on the screen. At the conclusion of the National Anthem, two Navy F/A 18C Hornets of VFA-83 will fly over the stadium.
Joining the Longhorn team captains at midfield for the coin toss will be Honorary Captain General Lawson Magruder. He is a 1969 graduate of the University of Texas who served 32 years in the U.S. Army. He was in combat in Vietnam and Somalia and concluded his career as the Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Forces Command. He is the highest-ranking officer commissioned from UT's Army ROTC program.
The operational F/A-18C squadron is based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, attached to the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69). Recent deployments from the base include 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and in 2009 and 2010 for Operation Enduring Freedom. Deployment will occur again in the spring of 2012, as troops will defend the U.S. as part of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN aboard USS Eisenhower.
UT graduate Commander Cassidy "Dudley" Norman will take the flight lead. Norman, an Austin native, received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering in 1993 and holds the University of Texas dear to his heart. During his tenure here, he was a walk-on Longhorn baseball player in 1988 and 1989, and met his wife Michelle Norman, a 1992 UT graduate, also from the engineering school. Upon graduating, Norman entered the US Navy through the Aviation Officer Candidate School and is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School. He has completed F/A-18 tours on the East Coast, West Coast and in Japan. He has worked his way to become the Commanding Officer of the VFA-83 Rampagers.
Lieutenant Matt "Shy Ronnie" Ramirez will act as the wingman for the flyover. Hailing from the waters of Lake Michigan, he grew up playing soccer, track, football and hockey. Ramirez is a 2006 graduate from the University of Michigan's Aerospace engineering program where he simultaneously received his commission in the United States Navy from the Naval ROTC program at the school. He earned his wings of gold in 2009 and completed his flight training at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Ramirez joined the VFA-83 Rampagers in November 2010 flying the mighty F/A-18C Hornet for his first operational tour.
Lieutenant Craig "Duke Florsheim" Searles will be the spare and final candidate of the flyover. Born into a naval family, he settled in King George, Virginia after living all over the world. He earned his bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech. After college, he was commissioned into the US Navy and attended flight school in Florida, Oklahoma and Kingsville, Texas. Searles is presently on his first operational tour at NAS Oceana with VFA-83.