USAREC DCG returns to alma mater for homecoming weekend
December 7, 2011
There was a lot to celebrate during Kentucky State University's homecoming weekend in October. The university marked 125 years since its 1886 founding, staged a come-from-behind win and honored some of its most distinguished alumni. Joining in the celebration was Brig. Gen. Henry L. Huntley, USAREC deputy commanding general.
A 1983 graduate, Huntley returned to the KSU campus with his wife and fellow KSU alum, Faye. They saw many of their old classmates and got to see how the campus has changed over the years.
During the school's Founder's Day celebration, Huntley received the John Henry Jackson Service Award. Named for KSU's first president, the award "honors recipients who exemplify the dedication to the ideals of service to their communities," according to KSU officials.
Dr. Mary Evans Sias, KSU's president, presented Huntley with the award. She said Huntley's service in the Army typified the spirit of the award and its namesake.
For his part, Huntley said he was "very humbled" to accept the award. He told the audience that if they forgot their past, they would be unclear about where they were headed in the future.
Sias said Huntley was well deserving of his award. She said his story typifies that of many current and past KSU students.
"He came to our campus to learn and then went out to serve," she said. "He is very well deserving of this award."
After receiving his award, Huntley visited friends and fellow graduates. Many clutched his hand and told him how proud they were of him. Young children asked for his autograph while others posed for pictures.
Huntley then watched the homecoming parade the following morning in downtown Frankfort, where many veterans came up to him and shared their stories of service.
One of these veterans was Robert Miller. The 1968 KSU grad served in the Army during the early 1970s and saw extensive action in Vietnam.
"We're proud of you," Miller said. "It's an honor to meet you."
Young soldiers also came up and asked to have their pictures taken with Huntley. He shared stories of his own college days when he played in the band and marched as a cadet.
That afternoon, Huntley used one of his coins to do the pre-game coin toss. He spoke with many of the players and managers on the sidelines and offered them encouragement in their quest to graduate.
Sias said the entire KSU community was excited to have the Huntleys back on campus. His status as one of the Army's senior leaders reflects well on KSU and its contributions to the community and the nation as a whole.
"We're honored to have General Huntley here to help us celebrate our 125-year anniversary," Sias said. "He's someone who really stands out, and he's somebody we want both our students and the community to see."
Huntley said he hoped others would feel the call to military service. KSU and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities should help pick up the slack when it comes to the nation's defense.
"The HBCUs have a long history of being contributing members of our military," Huntley said. "The Army also has a long history of opening its doors first to new opportunities for African-Americans."
Huntley said he hopes ROTC could return to the KSU campus at some point. It would benefit HBCUs like KSU, but would also benefit the Army.
While he appreciated the accolades, Huntley said he was just as proud of KSU as the university was of him.
"I am very proud of this institution. KSU was a perfect fit for me. It was a place that gave me a chance to grow up."