WKU to observe Veterans Day at Nov. 10 ceremony
- WKU News
- Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
WKU will observe Veterans Day at 11 a.m. November 10 with a wreath-laying ceremony at Downing Student Union, room 3020, followed by the ROTC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
The Veterans Day ceremony will include remarks from WKU President Timothy C. Caboni.
The ROTC Hall of Fame Induction will begin at noon in Diddle Arena’s Stansbury Concourse. The 2023 ROTC Hall of Fame Inductee is LTC John N. Vititoe.
At 2 p.m., the Department of Military Science and Leadership will host a ribbon cutting for its new office at Diddle Arena, room 2027.
For information, contact WKU ROTC, (270) 745-4293
Here is information from WKU ROTC on this year's Hall of Fame inductee:
John Vititoe was born in Hardin County, Ky., on May 22, 1941. He attended Vine Grove High School, where several of his teachers encouraged him to attend Western Kentucky University. He chose to study Industrial Arts. As a freshman at WKU, John enrolled in the Military Science program. He was recruited by the Pershing Rifle Company B-3 to join its ranks. He excelled in ROTC and in the Pershing Rifles, joining the IDR and Exhibition Drill teams from 1959 to 1962. In his senior year, his brother Pershing Rifles elected him company commander. Upon graduation in January 1964, John was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery of the Regular Army.
From February to May of 1964, John attended the Field Artillery Officers’ Basic Course at Ft. Sill, Okla. Upon graduation, he was sent to Okinawa for duty with the 1st Missile Battalion of the 57th Artillery. There, he learned practical lessons in leadership as the Firing Platoon Leader, and later as the Assembly and Transportation Platoon Leader. In 1967, now a Captain, John was reassigned to the 1st Battalion, 16th Artillery as the commander of A Battery and then as the Battalion Executive Officer. Only 11 months later, he was sent to the Far East again, this time in Korea with the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, where he served as the Battalion S-3. His exceptional performance earned him two Army Commendation Medals. A new assignment to the 7th Battalion, 17th Artillery within the 2nd Infantry Division landed John his second Battalion S-3 assignment.
John next went to war-torn Vietnam. He arrived in spring of 1970 and became the Brigade Liaison Officer for the 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division. On April 19, 1970, he was flying in a Command and Control helicopter supporting a friendly infantry company in ground operations. The company received intense enemy fire, resulting in the injury of several Soldiers. Upon landing in the contested area, John jumped off the aircraft to aid in extricating the wounded. At one point, the infantry came under fire from an enemy bunker. John ran to an exposed position where he effectively engaged the enemy. John was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device for his actions. He also earned nine Air Medals for participating in over 225 aerial missions over hostile territory. He went on to serve in additional S-3 positions in the 25th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division, earning three more Bronze Stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star.
In 1971, John returned to the United States, and like many young Captains with combat experience, he was assigned to ROTC duty. He was posted at Morehead State University as an Assistant PMS, Pershing Rifles Co V-1 advisor, and Flight Program Coordinator. While at Morehead, he was promoted to Major and earned his master’s degree.
Next, John remained in Kentucky, going to Louisville as a Field Artillery Advisor. There, he shared his schoolhouse learning and combat experience with the reserve component Soldiers the division trained. John was then sent across the country to Ft. Hunter Liggett, Calif., with the US Army Combat Development Experimentation Command as the Chief, Pictorial Branch, Instrumentation Division. It was there that he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
For his last assignment, John went to the Readiness Group Puerto Rico at Ft. Buchanan as the Operations Officer until his retirement in February 1985. During his post-combat assignments, John added three Meritorious Service Medals to his awards and decorations.
Upon retirement in early 1985, John and an old Pershing Rifles Brother opened a small retail sporting goods business in Radcliff, Ky. In 1988, he became an industrial arts teacher at East Hardin and John Hardin High Schools. In the summer of 1991, John and his wife left Kentucky and relocated to Cape Coral, Fla., where he earned his real estate license and served on the staff of the Shell Point Retirement Community in Ft. Myers. They again moved across the country in 1997 to Hemet, Calif., where John became the Activities Director for the Sunwest Village Retirement Community. He retired in the summer of 2006, and he and his wife split their time between Rineyville, Ky., and Hemet, Calif. In retirement, they enjoy biking, vacations, and traveling with friends in Europe and the US.
John’s 22-year career in the Army and following service in various community activities reflect his dedication to serving others before self. John Vititoe is emblematic of WKU’s motto: The Spirit Makes The Master.
Western Kentucky University prides itself on positioning its students, faculty and staff for long term success. As a student-centered, applied research university, WKU helps students expand on classroom learning by integrating education with real-world applications in the communities we serve. Our hilltop campus is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was recently named by Reader’s Digest as one of the nicest towns in America, just an hour’s drive from Nashville, Tennessee.