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LSU Salutes Proud Military History

Former Tiger Football Player Part of Proud Tradition


LSU's long and proud military history began more than 150 years ago and was never more evident than during World War II when LSU boasted more officers on active duty than any other institution in the nation other than the military academies.
Jim Zietz/University Relations

As the nation prepares to celebrate Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11, LSU will honor its proud military heritage from Nov. 11-12 with LSU Salutes activities, which will include a Veterans Day observance, a star-studded USO Show, and the Annual Assembly and Hall of Honor induction ceremony this year.

One U.S. Marine can claim a role in two of LSU's proud traditions – military service and football. Capt. Elice Parker (pronounced El-cee), a former walk-on running back for the Tiger football team, is currently the Alpha Company Commander of the Headquarters & Service Battalion at the Camp Smedley D. Butler Marine Corps base in Okinawa, Japan.

Parker, a native of Zachary, commands 650 Marines that serve as the principal administrative group for one of the 14 bases on the island of Okinawa. The Headquarters & Service Battalion helps handle functions such as mail service, payroll and food services for the Marines deployed on the entire island.

Parker came to LSU on the G.I. Bill after four years in the Marines, and graduated in 2003 with a degree in general studies.

"My experience at LSU was amazing," said Parker. "I couldn't do the things I'm doing now if I hadn't graduated from LSU."

He arrived on LSU's campus as a 22-year-old and walked on to the Tiger football team under then-head coach Gerry DiNardo, and would stay on for the next five years as the team transitioned from DiNardo to Nick Saban. Parker served as a backup to players like Kevin Faulk, Rondell Mealey, Domanick Davis and LaBrandon Toefield, and while he never saw many carries, he carved out a niche for himself on special teams, earning three varsity letters and racking up 16 career tackles, including 10 for the 2001 SEC Championship team.


Capt. Elice Parker, a former walk-on running back for the Tiger football team, has spent more than a decade in the Marine Corps, including two stints in Iraq.
Photo courtesy of Elice Parker

"My experience was amazing," Parker said. "I had so much fun, and the adversity prepared me for what I do now. You know, being a walk-on, I definitely had to do more, importantly with a coaching transition."

More importantly, his interactions with the athletic support staff played a major role in helping Parker to finish his degree.

"I had good people that kept me on track," he explained. "Verge Ausberry, Karla Lemoine, Lois Stuckey and Shelley Mullenix, they wouldn't let up on me and made sure I graduated."

Once he left Baton Rouge, Parker rejoined the Marine Corps and entered Officer Candidate School. He specialized in aviation maintenance, with stints in Pensacola, Fla.; Miramar, Calif.; and Quantico, Va., including two deployments to Iraq, where he worked with an F-18 jet squadron. He's served in Okinawa since the spring of 2011.

For Parker, LSU Salutes and the university's Homecoming festivities celebrate two of the biggest influences in his life.

"It's awesome," he said. "For me, being a Marine and being an LSU alum go hand in hand. Being a Marine is what helped me get into LSU, which allowed me to play football. And having my degree has set me up for all of my success since."

LSU Salutes, sponsored by the university and the Cadets of the Ole War Skule, is an annual celebration of the contributions of U.S. veterans, in particular those who attended LSU and served in ROTC.

Twelve distinguished alumni will be inducted into the military Hall of Honor as part of the LSU Salutes celebration. The inductees, all of whom must have attended LSU and served in the military, are selected based on their involvement with the university, as well as with the military and community. When the LSU Military Museum in the Memorial Tower is completed, the names of all those inducted into the Hall of Honor will be appropriately displayed as part of the permanent exhibition.

The 2011 inductees include the late Army Lt. Col. Ralph Thompson Brown; Army 2nd Lt. Lane Carson, secretary of the Louisiana Office of Veterans Affairs, of Covington; the late Air Force Col. Richard D. Chappuis Sr. of Lafayette; the late Army Brig. Gen. Steve Archie Chappuis of Tacoma, Wash.; the late Air Force Col. George L.J. Dalferes of Kensington, Md.; Army Capt. Billy H. Ezell of Lake Charles; Army Capt. Dexter Allen Gary; the late Army/Army Reserve Col. Paul M. Hebert; the late Army Air Corps 2nd Lt. Norman V. Kinsey of Shreveport; the late Army Air Corps Maj. Lloyd F. Love of Ferriday; retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ralph W. Stephenson Jr.; and Navy Capt. Carl F. Weiss of Mechanicsburg, Pa.


LSU and the Cadets of the Ole War Skule co-host annual events like LSU Salutes to offer a visible remembrance of the soldiers who have proudly served in America's armed forces and given their lives to preserve our freedom.
Jim Zietz/University Relations

LSU Salutes activities will begin on Friday, Nov. 11, as LSU and the Cadets of the Ole War Skule commemorate Veterans Day in the Memorial Oak Grove behind the LSU Student Union. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. and conclude at 11 a.m. as the chimes in Memorial Tower ring the hour. Retired Louisiana National Guard Maj. Gen. John Basilica will be the guest speaker. The event is free and open to the public.

Following the LSU Salutes commemoration, Campus Life and First Year Experience, or FYE, and residents from LSU's East Campus Apartments will take part in the National Remembrance Roll Call at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, or 11.11.11, in the Memorial Oak Grove.

Also on Friday, the honorees and their guests will be recognized at the Commandant's Luncheon and the Chancellor's Reception. Keynote speaker for the luncheon will be Gen. Ann Dunwoody, Commanding General, Army Materiel Command. Dunwoody is the first female four-star general in any of the military branches.

A new addition to the LSU Salutes program this year is the USO Show. The show, which was established in 1995, will take place at the LSU Student Union Theater on Friday, Nov. 11, beginning at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

Free tickets – limit of four per order – may be obtained in person from the LSU Student Union Box Office. A special event parking pass will be issued with the tickets. For more information about the LSU Student Union, please contact the box office at 225-578-5128.

The USO Show, emceed by local television personalities Beth and Bob Courtney, will feature performances by individuals and groups and will be reminiscent of those shows that provided many hours of spirited enjoyment for U.S. troops. Representatives from each branch of the country's armed services will bear the flags of their branches and LSU's Pershing Rifles will "Post the Colors."

The Livingston Parish Children's Chorale will sing the National Anthem as well as a patriotic medley, and Richard Coleman, an LSU senior vocal performance major, will be joined by the Chorale for a special rendition of "I Pledge Allegiance." The Baton Rouge Caledonian Society's Pipes and Drums and LSU's Pershing Rifle drill team will perform in the "Ruffles and Flourishes" portion of the program.


The LSU Salutes Annual Assembly includes a military parade, static displays, a wreath laying and a 21-gun salute. In addition, 12 distinguished alumni will be inducted into the military Hall of Honor during the ceremony.
Eddy Perez/University Relations

Other entertainment includes an appearance by Baton Rouge's own "Minnie Pearl," local entertainer Willery Capron; the Sweet Adelines women's barbershop chorus; the Baton Rouge Concert Band; and the LSU Schola Cantorum, a mixed-voice chorus.

Jim Hawthorne, the "Voice of the Tigers," will be joined by the concert band and LSU chorus for the Lee Greenwood hit "God Bless the USA." Local vocalist Terry Patrick Harris, an LSU professor of music, will present "God Bless America," and the show's finale will feature the entire cast joining the Baton Rouge Concert Band for "God of Our Fathers."

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the LSU Salutes Annual Assembly ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. The ceremony will include a military parade, static displays, a wreath laying and a 21-gun salute. The LSU Corps of Cadets, consisting of LSU Army and Air Force ROTC students, and LSU and Southern students in the Southern University Navy ROTC program will participate in the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.

LSU Salutes recognizes all U.S. veterans and, in particular, those who attended LSU and served in ROTC. In addition to the ceremony at the LSU War Memorial, this year's Hall of Honor inductees will also be recognized during pregame activities for LSU's Homecoming football game against Western Kentucky at Tiger Stadium. The Golden Band from Tigerland will also perform a patriotic halftime show to conclude the LSU Salutes activities.

LSU's military history began more than 150 years ago with the opening of the university under Superintendent and Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman in 1860. Then called the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy and nicknamed the "Ole War Skule," the university, located in Pineville, endured two closings during the Civil War before being burned in 1869. After relocating from Pineville to Baton Rouge and taking on the name Louisiana State University, the institution continued to build on its military tradition while still retaining the "Ole War Skule" nickname.

Established as a land-grant institution in 1874 as part of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which required all male students to receive basic military training, LSU required participation in the ROTC by all male students until 1969, when the Board of Supervisors made participation voluntary.

The university's military tradition was never more evident than during World War II. LSU boasted more officers on active duty than any other institution in the nation other than the military academies.

LSU and the Cadets of the Ole War Skule co-host annual events throughout the year including the Chancellor's Day Parade, the LSU Memorial Day Ceremony and LSU Salutes. These ceremonies help to preserve and honor the ideals and experiences from previous generations so that they can be passed along to future generations and offer a visible remembrance of the soldiers who have proudly served in America's armed forces and given their lives to preserve our freedom.

Additional information about membership in the Cadets of the Ole War Skule or LSU Salutes is available at www.olewarskule.lsu.edu/, by email at cadets@lsu.edu, or by calling the Cadets of the Ole War Skule at 225-578-0420 or toll-free at 1-866-SALUTES.