Honoring MTSU's Fallen
The university's service flag presently contains sixty-eight gold stars, and it is humbling to discover more about those among this group who have given their lives for their country. At least five MTSU alumni died during WWI, including the author of the first alma mater, W.J. McConnell. MTSU alumni were also some of the first to give their lives in WWII just after Pearl Harbor in defense of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Throughout the World War II, MTSU students served and fell in the Pacific Islands, Italy, North Africa, Western Europe (including D-Day), Eastern Europe, and the China-India-Burma theater. Two died on Iwo Jima, one during the pre-invasion reconnaissance as a member of an Underwater Demolitions Team (predecessors to today's Navy SEALs), and another while trying to fend off Japanese attackers. During Vietnam, nearly half of the MTSU casualties, died while trying to assist others during rescue or close air support missions.
Memorials to MTSU's veterans began in World War I as a service flag and gold star flag flew in the old auditorium. As KIAs were reported to the campus, blue stars on the service became gold stars and moved to the appropriate banner. During the World War II years, another service flag, this time containing approx. 800 stars, again hung in the campus auditorium. Later, to remember those in the MTSU community who have served our country, friends and family planted trees and named roads to honor our veterans, but the largest memorial, the Alumni Memorial Gym (1950), honors nearly forty MTSU students killed in World War II and contains a plaque with their names. The MTSU ROTC detachment, established in 1953, have dedicated a memorial library and maintain other small memorials in and around Forrest Hall to honor those from the program who have fallen.