New residence halls memorialize student and alumni veterans.
Ohio State’s “loyalty and respect” have been constants in Karen Miller Mendoza’s life since she lost her husband, Ray, during his third combat tour in Iraq.
ROTC, the athletic department and the John Glenn School Public Affairs all have honored Ray, a 1995 graduate, over the years. Now, the university will remember him and fellow military veterans in another way.
Since 1962, Ohio State’s north residential area has been a standing tribute to student and alumni veterans. More than 50 years later, the university’s most ambitious residence hall project — the North Residential District Transformation — will help grow this tradition.
The Board of Trustees approved a plan in January to name 11 buildings in the North Residential District for student and alumni veterans. The buildings will open in time for the 2015–16 and 2016–17 academic years.
“To have this entire area dedicated to honoring (veterans’) service demonstrates a significant commitment from the university,” said Michael Carrell, an assistant provost, director of the Office of Military and Veterans Services and a retired Air Force colonel. “It’s heartwarming to work for a place that continually recognizes and supports veterans.”
Five structures plus Curl Drive were named for veterans in 1962, when university trustees unanimously voted to dedicate certain north campus residence halls to Ohio State veterans who had given their lives in World Wars I and II and the Korean War. Those veterans’ names will be associated with new buildings because the original locations are or will be eliminated in the transformation project.
In addition, six student and alumni veterans from more recent wars, such as Vietnam and the war in Iraq, will be memorialized through the naming of four new residence halls and the renaming of Neilwood Gables and Lane Avenue Residence Hall.
A panel of students and representatives of Student Life and the Office of Military and Veterans Services selected the most recent honorees.
“It was important to us that we represented many kinds of veterans,” said Molly Ranz Calhoun, associate vice president of student life and a member of the committee. The honorees, she said, are diverse not only in gender, ethnicity and military service, but also in their Ohio State activities and passions.
For Karen Mendoza, this initiative is “a beautiful reminder” to students that veterans’ sacrifices have played a role in providing their educational opportunities. She is grateful on a personal level, too.
“Here I am, a Marine widow living on the opposite coast — thousands of miles and a decade away — and this university still treats us like family. That’s truly what being a Buckeye is all about.”
Residence hall honorees
The Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of a panel of students and staff members, voted to memorialize these distinguished veterans associated with Ohio State by naming residence halls in their honor:
Maj. Ray J. Mendoza, U.S. Marine Corps, 1968–2005: Ray Mendoza ’95 was a member of the men’s wrestling team and Big Ten finalist. He joined the Marines in 1995 and later wrestled with the All-Marine Wrestling Team and was an alternate for the 1996 Olympic Games. Mendoza was killed by an IED during his third tour in Iraq. He was awarded a Purple Heart.
Col. Clotilde Dent Bowen, U.S. Army, 1923–2011: Clotilde Bowen ’43, ’47 MD earned undergraduate and medical degrees from Ohio State. A trailblazer throughout her life, she was the first African American to graduate from Ohio State’s College of Medicine, the first African American physician and female colonel in the U.S. Army and the first African American woman to direct a hospital clinic, which she did during the Vietnam War. She died in 2011 at the age of 88.
Capt. Jon T. Busch, U.S. Air Force, 1941–1988: Jon Busch ’64 was initiated into the only tri-service national military honor society, Scabbard and Blade, and was in ROTC at Ohio State. After deploying for Vietnam, Busch’s plane was shot down in 1967, and he was taken as a prisoner of war. His remains were identified and returned in 1988, and he was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
Maj. Robert H. Lawrence Jr. U.S. Air Force, 1935–1967: Robert Lawrence ’65 PhD earned his doctorate in chemistry from Ohio State. He then joined the Air Force Astronaut Training School and was named to the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Lab Program, becoming the first African American astronaut in the United States. Lawrence was killed in training when the F-104 he was copiloting crashed.
Private First Class Omar Ernest Torres, U.S. Army, 1987–2007: Omar Torres earned a full scholarship to attend Ohio State and joined the Army Reserves as a freshman. While at Ohio State in 2005–06, he studied political science and Chinese, joined ROTC and worked for OSU libraries. He was called to active duty during his sophomore year and was killed in 2007 when an explosive detonated near his unit in Baghdad.
Capt. John Hideo Houston, U.S. Marine Corps, 1949–1984: John Houston ’75 studied business and was active in the Karate Club at Ohio State. According to his brother, when riots broke out on campus in 1970, Houston retrieved and returned a flag that had been torn down. He joined the Marines in 1975 and lost his life during training exercises when his helicopter crashed in inclement weather.
New residence halls also will be named for these distinguished veterans and former students, who were honored in 1962 through the naming of a street and several former residence halls:
Fireman First Class John Thomas Blackburn, U.S. Navy: John Blackburn was an Ohio State student and member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity before joining the Navy in 1939. He was killed in 1941 in the attack on Pearl Harbor, where his commanding officer said he died a hero by staying at his post until it was too late to save himself.
Maj. William C. Nosker, U.S. Air Force, 1919–1944: William Nosker ’41 was a guard for three years on the varsity football team, earning an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and a championship ring in ’39. He enlisted in 1941 and earned the Bronze Star and the Air Medal with three clusters. Nosker was killed in a plane crash during a night mission in 1944.
Alice Rebecca Raney, U.S. Army: Alice Raney ’39 worked in public health before enlisting in the Army and joining the Army Nurse Corps. She fell ill while on active duty and died in 1944. Raney was the first Ohio State woman to die in World War II.
Machinist’s Mate First Class Robert R. Scott, U.S. Navy, 1915-1941: Robert Scott attended Ohio State before enlisting in the Navy in 1938. He was killed in action during the attack on Pearl Harbor, where he was heard saying these last words: “This is my station and I’ll stay here and give them air as long as the guns are going.” Scott was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, making him the first Ohio State student to earn this honor in either World War.
Lt. Col. James G. Curl, U.S. Army: James Curl ’40 was a Columbus native. He was a decorated member of the Army Air Forces, earning the Silver Star for his service. He was killed while piloting a fighter plane in 1945.