By Jeff Murphy, April 25, 2016
WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri invites members of the local community and all others who are interested to a pre-Memorial Day ceremony in honor of individuals who gave their lives in service to the United States. The ceremony begins at noon Wednesday, May 25, on the east side lawn of the Alumni Memorial Chapel, and will be moved inside the chapel if inclement weather occurs.
A retired member of the U.S. Marines Corps, Major John T. Schwent Jr., executive director of Camp Valor Outdoors, a non-profit organization that helps wounded veterans, will present the keynote address in a ceremony that includes participation from members of the university and Warrensburg communities. The event also includes a Moment of Honor for POW-MIA soldiers; video of the “Old Rugged Flag” performed by the late Johnny Cash; musical salute to the Armed Forces; the laying of a wreath in honor of those who lost their lives in service; the reading of a poem in honor of veterans; and more. Robin Crouch, chair of the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
The event also will include participation from UCM administrators, local leaders and rifle guard members from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2513 and the American Legion Post 131, representatives of Whiteman Air Force Base, a UCM Army ROTC alumnus, and representative of the Missouri Veterans Home.
Schwent served for nearly 23 years active duty in the Marines, and his last duty assignment was in Kansas City as the deputy director for Marine Corps Total Force Systems, HQMC. While in the service, he was part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and participated in Operation Sharp Edge, Monrovia, Liberia. He also became a primary marksmanship instructor for the Marines. From 2010-2014, he served as head coach of the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Shooting Team, having won 65 out of 90 medals over four Warrior Games, a para-Olympic-style competition for all military members. He currently participates in local, state, regional and national shooting competitions and is the head coach of the Special Operations Command Wounded Warrior Shooting Team.
Schwent’s other honors include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal.
After leaving the military, Schwent worked as a vice president of operations for a national manufacturing firm, and served as a chief executive officer for Iron County Hospital in Pilot Knob, where he retired in May 2012 to devote more time to helping veterans. He has aided more than 700 military veterans and their families since he founded and became executive director of Camp Valor Outdoors, Kingsville, in January 2013. His mission is to assist ill, injured and wounded veterans in the healing process through adaptive competitive outdoor activities including guided hunting, fishing, shooting, archery, and 4-wheeling.
Individuals who have questions about the pre-Memorial Day observance may contact Delilah Nichols, coordinator of Military and Veteran Services at UCM, at 660-543-8977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.