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Student Veterans Honor Local Comrades

May 02, 2011  |  Omar Adams of The Liberty Champion

Members of Liberty's ROTC program speak with local veterans honored at a dinner hosted by the Student Veterans Group (SVG).

It takes a veteran to fully appreciate another veteran’s sacrifice. That premise led the Student Veterans Group (SVG) at Liberty University to hold a dinner in honor of local veterans.

Roughly 90 veterans attended the event, along with a few family members and a detachment of Army ROTC and National Guard recruits. The men in attendance served in conflicts spanning nearly 70 years, from Normandy, France through Fallujah, and Iraq.

One of the honored guests was Frank Conte, a World War II veteran who served in the Third Army under Gen. George S. Patton. Many sought him out afterward to shake his hand, and the number of venerable guests impacted SVG president Cpl. Jared Delello.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve four years in the Marine Corps,” Delello said, while addressing the attendees. “Even still, I find myself unworthy to be counted among you.”

Attendees were given the “Combat Trauma Healing Manual: Christ-Centered Solutions for Combat Trauma.” Afterward, the night’s keynote speaker, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. J.C. Coleman, gave his testimony.

The Georgia native served as a machine gunner with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam in 1965 and stayed with the Army for 27 years.
He is now the associate pastor for All Nations Community Church in downtown Lynchburg.

Coleman mentioned the time he received what the doctors called a “million dollar wound” in Vietnam. He said a bullet went through one arm and stopped in his opposite lung. The doctors told him the bullet missed all of his bones, his spine and his heart.

After recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Coleman was made a drill instructor. He was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for saving the lives of a recruit and fellow instructor after the recruit dropped a live grenade. Coleman said that, while he fell away from his faith for a while, his family and home church were praying for him.

“Remember the power of prayer,” he said. “My mom and dad were praying for me when I wasn’t praying. The church — your family — will be praying for you, but you won’t know it.”

He asked those in attendance, and the young soldiers in particular, to remember two other points. First, the importance of surrounding themselves with godly people, and second, “the value of knowing God’s Word and knowing it for yourself.”

Coleman focused on the younger generation in his closing remarks. “I just admire you guys standing on the front lines now,” he said. “It brings tears to my eyes seeing all of you in uniform. It brings tears to my eyes when I see young men like Jared [Delello] — thank God that we’ve still got them in this country.” 

Delello echoed this sentiment while addressing the ROTC cadets: “I am personally thankful that when I drop my pack and carry on with life in whatever fashion I choose outside the military, there’s another generation picking it up so that I may carry on in peace.”