WKU honors Yates, veterans during ceremonies today

On Veterans Day and in honor of 1st Lt. Eric Yates, a A WKU Army ROTC graduate who was killed last year in Afghanistan, the university hosted a ceremony Friday to celebrate his life and inducted him into the ROTC Hall of Fame. Yates’ mother, Cathy Yates, was on hand at Guthrie Bell Tower as a new granite panel with Yates’ face on it was unveiled.

Michael McKay

Veterans Day across the country is a time to be thankful and reflect on the service provided by the men and women in the military.

WKU recognized the day in a special way, unveiling a new granite panel at the Guthrie Bell Tower in honor of 1st Lt. Eric Yates at a Veterans Day ceremony. Yates and Lt. Col. Thomas Hightower were also inducted into the WKU ROTC Hall of Fame in a separate ceremony.

Yates was a member of the WKU class of 2008. He was killed in Afghanistan while deployed with his unit from Fort Campbell on Sept. 18, 2010. The panel is of Yates and 13 of his friends who served in Afghanistan.

Yates’ family members and members of his unit, Company B, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell were in attendance at both events.

Yates’s mother, Cathy Yates, was involved with the new panel. She said she originally wanted a bronze statue of her son but was happy that the panel included his friends.

“That way he’s not alone,” she said.

Yates’ mother was scheduled to speak at the unveiling ceremony but was too overwhelmed to address the crowd.

She said the ceremonies were important to her family.

“It just means everything to us,” Cathy Yates said.

Other events that took place today were the Remembrance Day National Roll Call at Mass Media and Technology Hall and a 5k run at 6:30 a.m. involving Yates’ unit and others, with the proceeds benefiting the 1st Lt. Eric Yates Memorial Scholarship.