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By Bob Krekorian, Naval Station Newport Public Affairs
Nov. 9, 2012 

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Lt. Col. William Wando, United States Marine Corps, a student at the College of Naval Warfare, U.S. Naval War College, was a keynote speaker, Nov. 8, at the 2nd annual Armed Forces Recognition Day ceremony at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) Newport County campus.

Wando spoke about his Marine Corps experience, the challenges that veterans face upon returning to civilian life, and the values of leadership on and off the campus.

"A lot of people before me and those who will serve after me had to make this transition from a very structured environment in the military to civilian life," he said.

"A civilian life that may have few rules and little structure can be a challenge," he said.

The ceremony included the unveiling of a plaque honoring the men and women from Rhode Island who have given their lives during combat operations in support of the War on Terror since September 11, 2001. The CCRI Student Veterans Organization co-sponsored the event in the campus auditorium.

During the ceremony, the names were read of the 27 service members from Rhode Island who died during those operations.

Following a moment of silence, a flag folding ceremony was conducted by members of a Marine color guard and flag detail, Inspector and Instructor, General Support Motor Transport Company, 6th Motor Transport Battalion, Providence, R.I.

The flag was presented to Gold Star parent, Lynn St. Germain-Lundh. Her son, Sgt. Brian R. St. Germain, Rhode Island Army National Guard, was one of the names read.

"Always remember that when you attend an institution of higher learning someone paid the price for you to express yourself without fear of persecution," Wando said.

Wando said there was value for veterans to participate in the discourse on campus, especially with their professors who may be voicing a point of view that no one agrees with.

"You should be providing that leadership using the Socratic method of having an exchange of ideas," Wando said.

"You can continue to serve as a valuable leader both in uniform as well as out of uniform," he said.

"Your experience and viewpoint are extremely important to the discourse on campus," he said,

Wando said visits to Arlington National Cemetery have always been an emotional experience because of his friends who have been laid to rest there.

Some veteran students representing all branches of the armed forces, who attend CCRI were present at the ceremony. Other speakers included Newport mayor Harry Winthrop; State Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr., of Bristol/Portsmouth, chair, House Veterans' Affairs Committee; Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Lee Hardgrove, USA, retired; and retired Navy Capt. Bob Shea, CCRI vice president for business affairs.

Posted by Dan Marciniak