UCO unveils veterans memorial statue

UCO unveiled the new veterans memorial statue in Plunkett Park as a dedication to past, present and future military-connected students last week. 

The statue features two UCO students who are veterans who died during combat. The first is 2nd Lt. Jared Ewy of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and Sgt. Ryan Wood of the Army’s First Infantry Division, 26th Battalion.

“It is our privilege to say thank you to all America’s veterans, and especially two veterans very special to UCO who made the ultimate sacrifice, Jared Ewy and Ryan Wood. We want to let them know we appreciate their service and honor them,” said Tom McShane, director of the veterans program.

Many military members from different branches were in attendance. Family members and friends of Ewy and Wood had a designated area reserved for them by the UCO veterans program. Two of the family members shared words at the unveiling.

All attendees were asked to join in a moment of silent reflection as the statue was unveiled.

“I want to thank the entire university,” said Candice Wood Bunce, Ryan Wood’s sister. ‘This was my alma mater. They started this process years ago, and we are so excited to finally see it. This statue isn’t just a representation of what was, but a representation of a new life. We hope that all who pass by realize that it represents hope and dreams and the potential of a successful future.”

“The statue is a way for UCO to recognize and commemorate student veterans, past and future,” McShane said. “The process of getting this statue started about 5 years ago and it was the work of many staff, past and present, that came together to make this happen.”

UCO Veterans Day commemoration began with a reception for all UCO veterans and a formal Veterans Day event, followed by the statue unveiling and viewing. The VetHERO Center held an open house reception afterward for any UCO Veterans and family members.

The VetHERO Center on the UCO campus offers services and aid to those who are active in the military or are veterans as well as children and spouses of military members. Many scholarships are offered through the VetHERO Center. For information regarding their services, visit VetHERO on the UCO website or email vethero@uco.edu.

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