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Service Unifies MCCC and Armed Forces Community for Veterans Day

11/12/18


(From left to right) Vietnam Veterans Eddie Neas, USMC, Dennis Mannion, USMC, Frank Healy, USMC, Eugene Marsh, US Army, Art Witnik, US Army, and Joseph Johnson, US Army.

Lt. Col. Yvonne Johnson, US Air Force, at the Missing Service Members Table.

A Blackhawk helicopter was presented as a static display after the panel presentation.

WEST WINDSOR – Ahead of the nationally recognized Veterans Day on Nov. 11, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) welcomed veterans, active service members and their families to participate in the college’s 2018 Veterans Day Ceremony.

Held at the MCCC Conference Center on Nov. 3, members of each branch of the United States Armed Forces, many of whom are current Mercer students, joined for the recognition of and panel presentation by five veterans of the Vietnam War. The discussion was led by Eugene Marsh, a veteran of the US Army and alumnus of Mercer’s Architectural Science program. The event was coordinated by Director of Veteran Services John Becker.

On the panel were US Marine Corps Veterans Frank Healy, Dennis Mannion and Eddie Neas, while the US Army was represented by Veterans Joseph Johnson and Art Witnik. Army Veteran and MCCC alumnus Norman Glover was also scheduled, but unable to attend.

The day also featured a Missing Service Member Table, led by Lt. Col Yvonne Johnson of the US Air Force, as well as a close-up display of a Blackhawk helicopter.

A sense of unity rang through the venue, as members of both the Mercer and Armed Forces communities shared in a message of service. MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang drew on this topic, noting the college’s accessibility.

“One thing that veterans and Mercer County Community College share in common is service,” said Wang. She added, “This college is all about service. If offers the best financial option for those seeking to better their lives. We are right here in your backyard.”

MCCC has a long-standing connection to veterans. In 2016 the college was named the No. 1 military-friendly two-year school in the country by Victory Media. The College was also for its service to veterans through recognition as a Purple Heart community college.

The College and the Armed Forces draw from similarly diverse communities. Just as MCCC boasts full- and part-time students from local and international origins, the panel presenters also expressed diversity through their journeys to join the military.

Some, like Witnik, had no intention of going to Vietnam. “I did not join the army, the army joined me. I was drafted. I did not want to go,” Witnik recalled.

Others, like Healy, jumped on the chance to join. He looked at the military as a way to broaden his horizons beyond his hometown of North Arlington, NJ. “I quit high school in my junior year in 1964 and I joined the military, US Marine Corps.” He continued, “I wanted to see the world and I wanted an adventure. I got both and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Even still, Johnson noted that he put an athletic career on hold upon being drafted. Johnson was preparing to compete in the 100 and 200-meters event in the 1968 Summer Olympics when he was drafted. After his service, however, he found himself back in athletics, playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.

Despite the variety in their duties, each member of the panel’s consensus was that serving was one of their proudest and most memorable life achievements. Witnik, who made it entirely clear that he did not want to serve, called his tour “the most significant and proudest moment of my life at that time.”

MCCC offers a variety of services to veterans through the Veterans Services Office, directed by John Becker and located in on the second floor of the Student Center (SC 220). For more information, click here.

Veterans Services Website

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