Yates’ name to be added to Guthrie Bell Tower

Katherine Wade

For the first time since it was built, a new panel will soon be added to Guthrie Bell Tower in honor of 1st Lt. Eric Yates and other WKU alumni veterans.

Yates, who graduated WKU in December of 2008, was killed in action in Afghanistan during September of last year.

Yates was a member of WKU’s Reserve Officers’ Training Program (ROTC) and double majored in Social Studies and History.

President Gary Ransdell said Yates’  family and the ROTC department both wanted to find a way to memorialize Eric Yates on campus.

“To our knowledge, he is the only WKU ROTC cadet that was commissioned, served and died in the line of service in Afghanistan,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said there are 16 positions for panels on the bell tower, and this will take one of the few remaining vacant positions.

The panel will be etched with Yates’ name along with another dozen WKU alumni who are or have served in Afghanistan. It will also have artwork done by Jeff Jensen, a professor in the art department, of individuals who were with Yates when he died.

“This is one of the neat things about the Guthrie tower,” Ransdell said. “It’s a place for us to pay tribute to members of our own university family that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

A scholarship fund has also been set up in Yate’s name: the 1st Lt. Eric D. Yates Memorial Scholarship Fund. Fort Campbell junior Alan Johnson was the first recipient of the scholarship.

Kathy Yates, Eric Yates’ mother, spoke Wednesday night at the WKU Scholarship celebration dinner. She read a letter that Eric Yates had written that he wanted read at his funeral if he were to die in service in Afghanistan.

Ransdell said it was an amazing letter.

“It was really very emotional because it ended up coming to pass,” he said.

Ransdell said the goal is to have the panel installed by Veterans Day on Nov. 11.