For Immediate Release
Danielle Vayenas, USM Director of Communications,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-780-4150, (cell) 207-239-5715
Daniel Hartill, USM Communications and Media Relations Specialist,
email@example.com, 207-780-4744, (cell) 207-333-9910
USM to host Medal of Honor recipient during Veterans Week events
The University of Southern Maine will celebrate Veterans Week with a variety of events, including an address by Ryan Pitts, a veteran of Afghanistan who was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Nashua, New Hampshire native is scheduled to speak about leadership on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. in Hannaford Hall, located in the Abromson Center on the Portland Campus.
Along with the address by Pitts, events include a flag raising ceremony on the morning of Monday, Nov. 5, the dedication of a Purple Heart parking space on the Portland Campus, a reception at the start of the Women’s basketball season on Friday, Nov. 9 on the Gorham Campus and volunteer work on Nov. 12, when students will aid efforts to identify veterans’ graves at Evergreen Cemetery.
Together, the events burnish USM’s reputation as a university that values and respects veterans, said Camden Ege, an Air Force veteran who serves as USM’s assistant Veterans' Services coordinator. USM has more student veterans — over 300 — than any school in the University of Maine system.
“I think it means a lot as far as the recognition of our program,” Ege said.
For Ege, the highlight will be the visit by Pitts, who can talk both about his experience in Afghanistan and his post-Army work to attend and graduate from college. He left the Army in 2009. Several years later, he graduated from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester with a degree in Business.
“He knows what it’s like to make this transition to being a student,” Ege said.
Few have earned his honors.
On July 13, 2008, during his second deployment, Staff Sgt. Pitts became embroiled in a firefight in the Waygal Valley in northern Afghanistan. He was in a forward observer position and endured extraordinary fire. He suffered severe wounds as he worked to return fire. Despite his wounds, he crawled to alert his commanders of the dire situation.
“In Ryan Pitts you see the humility and the loyalty that define America’s men and women in uniform. Of this medal, he says, ‘It’s not mine alone. It belongs to everybody who was there that day because we did it together.’”
Veterans Week Events
Flag Raising on Portland, Gorham and Lewiston campuses, Monday, Nov. 5 at 8:15 a.m.
Purple Heart Parking Space Dedication Ceremony, in the Sullivan Gym parking area, Portland Campus, Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 8 a.m.
USM/SMCC Veterans Breakfast at Southern Maine Community College, Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 a.m.
Address by Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts, Thursday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m.
Women's Basketball Veterans Day Tip-Off Tournament Reception, Friday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m.
Veteran Identification Project at Evergreen Cemetery, Monday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.
Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.