Once again this year’s Veteran’s Day celebration on campus was beautiful. Hank Hudspeth ’40 and George Hirasaki ’67 were honored for their service and Rocky Villafranca, currently a Midshipman First Class in the Rice NROTC made me weep with his strong and heartfelt remarks. One of the keynote speakers was Dale Spence ’55 of Kinesiology, who happened to mention in his talk a classmate of his, Rear Admiral Austin Scott, Jr., also ’55. As soon as I heard the name I knew where I’d encountered him before so I went back to the Woodson and scanned a copy of what he had said at the 2001 Veteran’s Day event. That year the class of 1955 commemorated the worst day in the history of Rice–July 17th, 1953–and dedicated a plaque to the ten Rice NROTC cadets who were killed in an airplane crash that night on the way from the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station to the Little Creek Base in Virginia.
Here are Admiral Scott’s powerful and moving remarks:
Jay Weidler, the only Rice survivor of the NROTC airplane crash, was my Civil Engineering lab assistant while he was working on his PhD at Rice. He later hired me in (my) mid-career at Brown & Root. He was a fine manager and highly decorated engineer, specializing in offshore oil and gas facilities. He has been retired for quite some time and now lives near Brenham, Texas.