By Fort Sill Tribune staffSeptember 21, 2018
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Sept. 21, 2018) -- Cameron University has touched the lives of Amanda Alexander and her late husband, 2nd Lt. Tobias Alexander, in numerous ways, she said.
Tobias Alexander completed the Green-to-Gold program there to receive his Army commission, they were married at the university in 2011, and she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Cameron. "We have so many memories here," Amanda Alexander said.
Cameron honored Lt. Alexander and all its Army ROTC students who were killed in action, and those who received the Medal of Honor, with the dedication of the George D. Keathley Department of Military Science Wall of Heroes Sept. 14, in Burch Hall.
Fort Sill Soldiers 2nd Lt. Tobias Alexander, and 1st Lt. Brandon Landrum, along with 1st Lt. Thomas Campbell and Capt. David Peters, appear on the list of those killed in action. The MoH recipients listed are Staff Sgt. George Keathley and Sgt. Gary Rose.
Miranda Landrum (Brandon's wife) and retired Staff Sgt. Bill Alexander (Tobias' father) cut strings to unveil the Wall of Heroes. Members of the Peters and Campbell families also attended the dedication.
"It's awesome," Miranda Landrum said of the memorial. "It's great that the university is honoring him." She made the trip from Mustang, Okla., with their two children, Gabriel, 8, and Blakely, 5.
She described Brandon Landrum as "amazing, a great dad and husband."
Miranda said she first met Brandon Landrum when they were in the Army National Guard in Duncan, Okla., in 2007. She was a high school senior and had yet to attend basic combat training, and then-Spc. Brandon Landrum was a combat medic.
The unit performed a long ruck march and Brandon Landrum was examining the feet of Soldiers. Miranda had just painted her toenails in preparation for her school prom, and that got her in trouble.
"He had me and my battle buddy pass our rifles behind our backs to each other for 30 minutes," she said.
She said she remembered thinking Brandon was cute, but didn't see him again until the next year as their unit prepared for a deployment. It was on the deployment that they started dating in Iraq in 2008, when they were both specialists.
"We came home on leave, and got married real quick, and everyone had to deal with it," she said. They were married in May 2009.
Brandon Landrum had been in ROTC before the deployment, but broke the contract to deploy with his Army unit, she said. When he returned, he was accepted back into ROTC and completed the Green-to-Gold program, which allows enlisted Soldiers to enroll as full-time ROTC students. He graduated from Cameron in 2011.
Bill Alexander said he believed the events of 9/11 motivated his son to enlist in the Army in 2012, when he was 20. "I'm very proud of my son, he accomplished a lot in the short time he was here.
"He was progressing through his career as an enlisted man, and he decided he wanted to do his father one better and become an officer," Bill Alexander said.
So after his first deployment to Afghanistan, Tobias Alexander applied to the Green-to-Gold program.
The dedication means much to the family, Amanda Alexander said.
"To be honored in this way, I know it would make him very proud," she said. "It's truly amazing."
Speaker Cameron President John McArthur said some Cameron ROTC graduates use their education incrementally over the course of a career: lieutenant, captain, major, colonel, and general officer.
Other graduates whose careers are cut short used their training in an instant to help a mission move forward, to save a comrade, to keep our country safe, McArthur said.
Lt. Col. Seth Hall, Cameron Department of Military Science chairman and professor, said he was excited to be part of the dedication.
"There is nothing that makes me more proud than to make sure their sacrifices are spoken of, and remembered. When we speak their names, they live on," Hall said. "The plaque and the wall will be here long after any of us are gone. The future cadets of Cameron will see them and know of some of the responsibility of the job that they are about to do."
The completion of the Wall of Heroes was a student-led project, Hall said.
Now-2nd Lt. Donavon Heintzman completed the project last year. He researched the oral histories of the Soldiers, built the cabinet, and created the layout for the wall. Heintzman could not attend the ceremony because he's a student in the Medical Services Branch Basic Officer Leaders Course.
The idea of a memorial wall goes back to 2013, when concept sketches and notes on a memorial were found in a digital archive, Hall said.
Over 750 officers have been commissioned through CU's ROTC program since Cameron became a four-year institution in 1971, Hall said. The ROTC program began in 1951, and at that time it was compulsory for all male students.
Cameron ROTC Cadet Audrey Shifflet was a childhood friend of Brandon Landrum who she knew though their church, the First Assembly of God in Lawton. She described him as "a natural born leader, he was never following the trend, but setting it."
She said that today's cadets are walking in the same halls that Landrum and the other cadets once did.
"You don't see a lot of universities doing something like this," she said of the Wall of Heroes. "It means a great deal to our university, our military science department, and the families."
Cameron also used the opportunity to induct retired Lt. Col. Michael Sloniker onto its alumni Distinguished Military Service Wall, which is adjacent to the Wall of Heroes. Sloniker said he was surprised by the induction, and attributed it to giving back to ROTC cadets.
He is a member of the Air Warrior Courage Foundation, which donates thousands of dollars each year to all Oklahoma universities' ROTC programs. He said Cameron has a special relationship with Fort Sill.
"The sergeants that were at Fort Sill and now in the Green-to-Gold program don't know how to study, but they know how to Soldier; and the cadets know how to study, but they don't know how to Soldier, so it trades off," he said.