The director of Princeton’s ROTC program, Lt. Col. Peter G. Knight, paid tribute to the University’s military veterans across generations during the annual Veterans Day service Nov. 11.
“Princetonian military service dates from our most recent conflicts all the way back to the days of James Madison , as a young military colonel in the American War for Independence,” Knight told a gathering of about 100 in the University Chapel. “It is indeed an incredible legacy.”
Citing figures that less than 1 percent of the U.S. population will ever serve in a military uniform, Knight said that observances like Veterans Day help keep the military connected to American society while also honoring all veterans.
He cited several alumni “who have followed [Princeton’s] selfless ideas into the profession of arms”: Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley ’80, commander of NATO ground forces in Afghanistan; Brig. Gen. Christopher Cavoli ’87, deputy commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division; Ambassador Alan Lukens ’46, who as an Army PFC helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in April 1945; and former congressman James Marshall ’72, who took a leave of absence from the University to serve in Vietnam as special operations platoon sergeant.
Knight also detailed the experience of 2nd Lt. Derek Grego ’12, a platoon leader currently responsible for the ground defense area around Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. The military “is unique in its combination of unlimited liability and the level of responsibility thrust upon the shoulders of its most junior leaders from the outset,” Knight said.
He said he expects the Princeton Army ROTC Program to produce many more men and women “who will serve their nation and the world with great distinction.” Knight said 23 of the Tiger Battalion’s 81 cadets are Princeton undergraduates, including eight freshmen who were sworn in following the ceremony.
During the service, the University paid tribute to 54 alumni veterans and 36 veteran employees and retirees known to have died in the past year. According to University figures, 180 current employees are veterans.