The 23rd annual Veterans Vigil was held Nov. 12-13 at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The Vigil began with a reception on Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. in the Rayburn Student Center pre-function area followed by the opening ceremony in the conference rooms, after which a processional took place to light the vigil flame that burned continuously until it was extinguished at the closing ceremony on Nov. 13.
“It is such an honor to be able to host an event that recognizes veterans and their contributions. This year marks the 23rd annual Veterans Vigil for the university and each year it brings a sense of unity and patriotism to our campus,” assistant registrar Jessica Gossett said. “Our focus this year is honoring our local veterans both on and off campus. We’d like to invite the community and student body to come pay homage to those that have sacrificed so much for this great nation.”
This year’s guest speakers were student chairs and scholarship recipients Master Sergeant George Evanko and Steven Allemang. Evanko entered the Army in 1987 where he trained at Fort Benning, Ga., for Infantry. In 1990, he was reclassified to Heavy Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic where he held many job titles such as Track Vehicle Driver, Senior Mechanic, Motor Sergeant, and Support Operations. Evanko has been awarded the Bronze Star Army Commendation medal, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and many others for his time in the service. Master Sergeant Evanko retired in Aug. 2011 and currently lives with his wife in Leonard.
Steven Allemang was born in West Germany to a military family in 1973, moving back and forth between Germany and the States until 1987. He enlisted into the United States Marine Corps during his senior year of high school and left for Recruit Training in Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in 1991. Allemang was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom three times between 2004 and 2008. He was then mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, based at NAS JRB Fort Worth, from 2011 until his retirement in 2013 with the rank of Gunnery Sergeant. Allemang currently attends A&M-Commerce where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in both physics and mathematics, and an associate’s degree in astronomy. He is also the proud father of two teenagers, one boy and one girl.
The closing ceremony happened on Nov. 13 on the walking mall of the Rayburn Center with the extinguishing of the vigil flame and a performance by the university chorale. In addition to Vigil activities, veterans can also receive a 10 percent discount at the university bookstore from Nov. 10-14 with military id.
The third annual Veterans’ Ball will be held on Nov. 15 in the Rayburn Center at 5:30 p.m. to end the Veterans Vigil. This year’s event will recognize local veterans and honor past and current veterans and their families.
“Each branch of the military has an annual birthday celebration to honor the founding of their branch,” said Jill Mobley, president of the student veteran association. “This is a continuation of that tradition, albeit modified to include celebrating all branches at one time. This year we are partnering with the Alumni Association’s ROTC Reunion to make our celebration bigger and better than ever!”
Attendees will enjoy a formal dinner, bar, and live entertainment provided by The Wonderfuls.