WJTV News Channel 12 - ETSU ROTC alumni meet for homecoming, talk about saving the prog

ETSU ROTC alumni meet for homecoming, talk about saving the program

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) -

Early last month we told you ETSU is set to be one of 13 ROTC programs across the country the army is shutting down.

Saturday alumni from the program met for a homecoming breakfast to talk about what they can do to save the program from the chopping block.

 At most homecomings, you reminisce about the past, and catch up with old friends.

But at this homecoming breakfast these alumni wanted to talk about one thing above all-

how to make sure this program has a future.

 "I didn't believe that it would ever come down to it was going be our school," class of '66 grad Dan Mahoney said. "There's a lot of people in this region that can go back to this program and say this is what made me what I am."

"We certainly don't deserve for our program to be cut. Because that takes away opportunity for people who have grown up in the area that want to pursue a career in the military, [this program] opens a door for them that they won't have if that's closed," class of ‘73 grad Gary Harrell said.

Harrell is one of 14 generals who graduated from this program.

"It stood me in good stead in places like Bagram, Afghanistan, Iraq," Harrell said.

Harrell's role as a commander in the Delta Force was seen by millions in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

"It is a good, strong program that produces outstanding leaders and it has done that for decades. I think the count is 1,449 cadets who have graduated from here," Harrell said.

The alumni here today all have stories of the impact the ROTC program has had on their lives.

Many I talked to said they are trying to get the army to overturn its decision so future generations have similar stories to tell.

"This whole region needs to get behind the university and say we want to keep the military tradition alive here at ETSU," Mahoney said. "And say to the senators and to our representatives and say this is not going to happen. Not in our state, not in our city."

But as of right now, this city's ROTC class of 2015 will be its last.

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