November 06, 2014

Vigil, ceremony highlight Veterans Day event

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Walter J. Tomczak, the former commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 205 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will present the keynote address at a Veterans Day ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at SIU. 

The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. at the main entrance to Shryock Auditorium. The SIU Carbondale Army and Air Force ROTC hold the annual joint military ceremony.  Cadets will perform a firing of volleys and provide color guard. 

Admission is free. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will move inside Shryock Auditorium.  The ceremony honors veterans of all American wars, conflicts and military operations.

University offices are closed and there are no classes Tuesday in observance of Veterans Day. 

For the 24 hours preceding the ceremony, a combined operation of more than 100 members of the university’s Army and Air Force ROTC will conduct a timeless tradition honoring those who have served. Cadets will stand a silent vigil beginning at 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 10, at the Old Main Flagpole in remembrance of the nation’s prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action. The guard change occurs every 15 minutes during the 24-hour hour period that runs until Tuesday’s ceremony.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the event, including the 24-hour silent vigil that precedes the ceremony.  SIU Carbondale Army and Air Force ROTC staff members and participating cadets will be available for interviews beginning at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 11. Contact Capt. Nicklaus J. Landon, adjunct assistant professor, at 618/453-2481 or at to arrange for interviews.

Retired Col. Tomczak served as Detachment 205 commander from 2004 to 2007, when he retired after 30 years of military service. His military career covered a variety of assignments beginning in 1977 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin’s ROTC program. His command positions included one of the Air Force’s largest aircraft squadrons in Anchorage, Alaska, and a transportation unit in South Korea where he managed a passenger terminal that handled more than 80,000 military passengers each year. He worked for the White House Military Office where he coordinated with the White House advance staff and U.S. Secret Service on Air Force One presidential flights. 

Tomczak is the chief operating officer at Brehm Preparatory School in Carbondale, where he is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the school’s day-to-day support operations, including human resources, technology, business office, communications, facilities, transportation and food service departments. He is also president of the Southern Illinois chapter of Military Officers Association of America.