ENMU holds Veterans day ceremony, honors 13 fallen service members

New Mexico News

PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Eastern New Mexico University held its Veteran’s Day ceremony on Thursday and held an honorary section for the 13 service members that were killed during the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan back in August. Veterans, students and staff gathered in the civil union building ballroom to honor our nation’s veterans.


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Patrice Caldwell, ENMU System Chancellor and President of the Portales Campus, said, “We treasure the veterans we still have with us, and we value their experience and their knowledge.” 

Guest speakers like US Army Sgt. Benito Gonzales spoke at today’s events recounting their service overseas. “It was tough you know. You leave your family behind. I left my wife behind but ultimately, it was a great experience for me. I grew with it,” Sgt. Gonzales said.

As part of the ceremony, 13 chairs were set up to honor soldiers killed during the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. Military Coordinator and USAF 2nd Lt. (Ret.) Ronald Hodnett said, “They are not here let us not forget the sacrifices of those and their families.”

They were killed in a bombing at the Kabul airport as service members and refugees were trying to leave the country. While ENMU leaders acknowledged how the tragedy was politicized, they wanted to keep the focus on the lives lost.

Robert Schneider, Ret. 1st Sgt U.S. Army, College of Business of ENMU, said, “We need to support the families the 13 that are left in ways that are unprecedented, their kids, husbands, and wives that died on that day that wasn’t supposed to happen.”

ENMU has a lot of ties to the military because of its close proximity to the Cannon Air Force Base, with hundreds of airmen, veterans, or their family members going the school or working on campus.

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