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Monday, November 26, 2012

World War II vet speaks: UNCP holds several events during Veterans Day

UNC Pembroke marked Veterans Day on October 12 with events that lasted nearly all day, beginning with a roll call of the soldiers who died in the 11-year-old global war on terror.

The UNCP community turned out to honor veterans and active duty soldiers for different reasons. History Professor Annika Culver took a turn reading the roll just after 8 a.m.

Flags fly during as the colors are posted by UNCP’s ROTC honor guard

Flags fly during as the colors are posted by UNCP’s ROTC honor guard

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“I just thought this is a way to honor my students who are veterans,” Dr. Culver said. “I think this event connects us with the many vets in the region and with Fort Bragg.”

Senior English major Gordon Byrd served in the Middle East and was stationed at Fort Bragg. He read before the moment of silence at 2 p.m.

“I served for four years with the 82nd Airborne,” Byrd said. “I think I read the name of one of my buddies.”

Victoria Huggins, a second-year student, sang during in the afternoon event and again in the evening at the Student Veterans Appreciation Banquet.

“My dad just returned from Kuwait last week,” Huggins said. “He’s served in the National Guard for 37 years. He’s my date tonight.”

In his benediction, James Standbridge, president of UNCP’s Student Veterans Association (SVA), said Veterans Day is about brotherhood, and his prayer was for peace.

“We ask you Lord that when we meet next year to read this roll that not one more name is added to the 6,638 that we read today,” Standbridge said.

MEMORIES OF SERVICE

Standbridge introduced the evening’s speaker, Anne Capucille, as a veteran who “lived though what we read about in history books.”

World War II veteran Cpl. Anne Capucille was the keynote speaker at the evening banquet

World War II veteran Cpl. Anne Capucille was the keynote speaker at the evening banquet

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Cpl. Capucille, who volunteered after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, delivered a sometimes humorous and very patriotic message.

“My children call me a professional veteran,” he said. “But I’m proud to have been part of the armed forces because this is a country worth defending, the best nation in the world.”

A Raleigh, N.C. native, who was a hydraulic aircraft engineer before the war, was part of the first wave of women in the Army’s Women Army Auxiliary Corp or WAAC.

“The women went in with the purpose of replacing men as quartermasters and desk jobs,” Capucille said. “They began to see we could do their job; only we did it a little better.”

Cpl. Capucille, now 94, showed off the leather purse and bible that were standard issue for WAACs. She noted an inscription that came with it: “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”

She married a fellow serviceman, who was a top aide to the famous World War II General Omar N. Bradley. In a moment of personal weakness, Gen. Bradley confided to Mrs. Capucille that his middle name was Napoleon. Then, the general attempted to swear her to secrecy.

“I told him I would keep his secret for 25 cents,” she laughed. Bradley who did not have any pocket change, left the room and returned with a check for the amount. “The memo line said ‘she knows what for.’ I never told any one my secret until he passed away.”

Gen. Bradley gave away Anne in marriage to then-Capt. Henry Capucille in 1943. Bradley’s autobiography “A General’s Life” is dedicated to the late Col. Henry Capucille.

As an officer’s wife, she travelled the world and had nine babies. The stress of world travel and family life has faded in memory while her adventures remain vivid. There was the time she attended a formal reception, white gloves required.

“I reached into my pocket book for my gloves and pulled out a white sock!” she laughed. “I never put socks in that top drawer again!”

Cpl. Capucille continues to support veterans and speaks frequently to service groups. She remains a patriot and steadfast in her support of the men and women of the armed forces.

HONORS

Outgoing director of UNCP’s Veteran’s Education and Transition program, Aubrey Swett, was presented the SVA Service Award. Swett introduced new full-time director Col. Michael Clawson.

Martin Nielsen was awarded the Student Veteran Alumni Award. A graduate student at UNC Charlotte, Nielsen helped play Veterans Day at UNCP.

Swett, a former Marine, offered some final words. “UNCP has more than 800 students who are vets, active-duty or related to the military in some way,” he said. “As our veteran numbers grew, we had to respond to them with appropriate services.

“It’s been a joy and a pleasure to work with our vets,” he said.

The Office of Veteran Education and Transition Assistance may be contacted at 910.775.4438 or by email at veterans@uncp.edu.

The traditional cutting of the cake is performed by Navy vet Martin Nielsen, who also received the Student Veterans Association’s Alumni of the Year Award.

The traditional cutting of the cake is performed by Navy vet Martin Nielsen, who also received the Student Veterans Association’s Alumni of the Year Award.

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