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Memorial Day is ‘day to give thanks’

By Linda Coutant

BOONE—At Appalachian State University’s Memorial Day ceremony May 30, retired Spc. Anthony Corso told the story of 31-year-old Army Capt. Clayton Carpenter who died when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting suffered a hard landing during a routine training mission, just days before he planned to propose to his girlfriend.

View larger imageRetired Spc. Anthony Corso, now an Appalachian State University student majoring in marketing, speaks at Appalachian’s Memorial Day ceremony. Photo credit: Marie FreemanView larger imageChancellor Sheri N. Everts, left, stands with the speakers and attendees as Appalachian State University’s ROTC cadre positions the flag during a Memorial Day ceremony. Photo credit: Marie Freeman

Two other crew members survived the crash and testified that Carpenter rolled the helicopter to his side to ensure he took the brunt of the impact, Corso explained. For his sacrifice in service to his country, Carpenter was awarded the rank of major.

“This Memorial Day like many before it, people are gathered for the traditional cookout nationwide. Sadly, some of those families will have an empty spot today at their table,” said Corso, who served in Afghanistan with the 1-17th Air Cavalry Squadron as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and in the Middle East and South America in support of elite special operations.

“Maj. Carpenter was not in Afghanistan nor was he in Iraq. Carpenter lost his life simply doing his job, training to be the tip of the spear. While we lose many souls to combat operations, we sadly also lose them just preparing the men and women of our armed forces to be ready to answer their country’s call,” he said.

Expressing condolences to families who have lost loved ones, Corso said all Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those who have sacrificed their lives for their country.

“I’ve come to realize many people consider Memorial Day the official start of summer… Today is the day to give thanks to those who have lost their life wearing this nation’s uniform and the families they have left behind. Today I ask you to not only mourn and remember our fallen heroes but also to celebrate their life and honor their sacrifice,” he said.

Injured in combat operations, Corso retired from U.S. Army and is now an Appalachian student. He is majoring in marketing with a minor in political science and also serves as vice president of the Student Veterans Association.

Corso is among approximately 200 self-identified student veterans enrolled at Appalachian. The university has been designated a Military Friendly School® by Victory Media since 2010 for embracing America’s military service members, veterans and spouses as students and ensuring their success. Among its services, Appalachian employs two VA Education Benefits specialists and offers transfer credit for military education and experience, specialized advising and orientation for military-affiliated and veteran students, and priority registration. Honor cords are presented for graduating veterans and service members.