The University of Findlay honored veterans with its second annual Veterans Day observance held in the Center for Student Life on Friday, Nov. 9. Speakers included U.S. Army Corps of Engineers veteran and UF Board of Trustees member Chris Ostrander, along with retired Lt. Col. James W. Woodward ’63, who was given a lifetime achievement award from the Ohio Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
To see more images from the ceremony, visit UF’s Flickr album.
Woodward, who was also selected as the 2018 Hancock County Veteran of the Year, detailed his family legacy of military service, which ranges from a great uncle who served during World War I, to grandsons who are now members of Reserve Officer Training Corps. Woodward, a Findlay native, served for more than 30 years in the U.S. Army and Reserve, retiring in 1989. He is now a member of the Hancock County Memorial Squad, which provides ceremonial military burials for veterans.
Ostrander’s story is quite different. He said as a child, “he had no intentions of going into the military.” He had no family members who had served, and he lived in a rural area with limited exposure to world events. His mind changed when his high school junior English teacher proudly told the class about her daughter being accepted into West Point military academy. When Ostrander said he was interested in learning more about the academy, his teacher responded, “West Point is really not a place for someone like you.”
His teacher was wrong – Ostrander, the youngest of six children, a high school athlete, and an individual who isn’t daunted by a challenge, earned his region’s only nomination at West Point out of more than 20 other students who vied for it. Ostrander went on to earn the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serving in countries ranging from Germany to Rwanda.
“Honestly, it changed my entire life,” said Ostrander of his military service. “The military made me who I am today.”
Also, during the ceremony, Jim Shoop ’82 and wife, Margie Shoop ’84, M’04 were recognized for their “War Horse” book contributions to the Mazza Museum. Shoope also donated a signed drawing and poem by sculptor Susan Leyland, designer of the War Horse memorial statue in England, which was inspired by Michael Morpugo’s book.
Shoop’s donations were made to bring more awareness to animals, ranging from horses to donkeys, that served and sacrificed their lives during World War I. Conditions were severe for horses at the front, particularly during winter months; hundreds of thousands of horses died from artillery fire, suffered from skin conditions, and were subjected to poison gas. “The Great War,” which ended 100 years ago, was the last time that cavalry units played a significant role on the battlefield, as troops transitioned to using other tools of warfare, such as tanks.
Following the ceremony, more than 600 names were read that are included on the University of Findlay Veterans’ Honor Wall, located in the Center for Student Life.