Col. Joseph Brown inducted into Shippensburg University Military Science Hall of Fame
By AMBER SOUTH
Supporters joined the Shippensburg University U.S. Army ROTC Thursday at a program recognizing Veterans Day and honoring the newest inductee into the Department of Military Science Hall of Fame.
Hall of fame inductee and 1982 SU graduate Col. Joseph Brown began his journey toward his place in the hall of fame 34 years ago when he choose SU as the place to further his studies and play football.
Brown said he had intended to stay in the service for just the four years he initially signed up for, but upon graduation he found himself in active duty and deployed to Germany during a time when the Soviet Union was threatening to attack.
Now 28 years later, he said he felt like the experience was just yesterday, and offered the current SU ROTC members sitting together in the audience some advice.
He told the young men to have perseverance, and to not fear courageousness.
“Give it your all. Don’t just try, just do it,” he said.
SU had a strong impact on Brown’s life, allowing several parts of his life to play out, he said. He specifically identified faculty members and fellow students.
“I learned how to learn, I learned how to get along with folks, and I learned how to lead in positions of authority. All of those things started here at Ship,” Brown said.
The Department of Military Science Hall of Fame was established in 2001 to recognize the career achievements of individuals associated with the program, said Lt. Col. Matthew Sober. Among the induction requirements is the distinguishing one self as a leader in service or as faculty or staff of SU, and in “passing make a significant impact on the university military science department,” he added.
The program’s guest speaker gave onlookers a glimpse into his memory and pushed the ROTC cadets to carry on the legacy of military members past.
World War II veteran Dr. Harry Bobonich, a longtime SU faculty member who retired in 1990, shared that his military career really began in his mind on Dec. 7, 1941 – the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. He learned about the attack when the radio program he was listening to was interrupted, and every station he turned the dial to was experiencing the same thing.
“Over night, a nation was changed,” he said.
That day as a senior in high school led to a career in the Navy. Bobonich told the audience about his training of landing on a beach and retreating in an assault boat, and how the timing of the atomic bomb spared him from having to take his training to real life.
His career continued as a deep sea diver doing salvage work, in which the suit he wore weighed 185 pounds.
“The first time they put that helmet on my head and closed the face plate in the front, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was buried alive,” he said.
Following his description of the difficulties of doing work 100 feet under the ocean, Bobonich turned his attention toward the ROTC cadets. He read the poem “In Flander’s Fields,” written by Lt. Col. John McCrea following the death of a friend and fellow soldier, in which fallen soldiers urge their living comrades to carry on their legacy.
“That’s what we’re doing as we celebrate Veterans Day,” Bobonich said. “Remembering and paying tribute. I doing so, symbolically, we are passing the torch,” he said.
He encouraged the ROTC battalion to carry the torch well, and saluted them with his belief that they can do so.
The ceremony wound down with a wreath presentation by Brown and Cadet Tyler Morgan and the playing of TAPS by Kendrick Gibbs.
Amber South can be reached at email@example.com and 262-4771.