Memorial Day Assembly Honors Heroes of War

Upper School students gathered in Brauer Auditorium this week for our annual Memorial Day Assembly, which remembers alumni and faculty who lost their lives in service to our nation.

Head of School Jay Rainey opened the assembly and asked everyone to rise as our Upper School chorus sang The National Anthem. He then introduced the guest speaker, Mr. K. Charles Mullenger ’06, who was an Army captain after he graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2010, earning a degree in French, Spanish, and Civil Engineering. He served in various locations and positions during his five years of active-duty service, including one combat tour in Afghanistan and joint operations training events in France, South Korea, and Chile. As a Field Artillery officer, he served in numerous leadership positions including Platoon Leader, Fire Support Officer, and Battalion Operations Officer. Captain Mullenger’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terror Service Medal.

He earned a Combat Action Badge for engaging enemy forces in Afghanistan and earned Airborne Wings from both the United States Army and the French Army.  Following an honorable discharge, Mr. Mullenger earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Today, he is a small business executive and holds numerous business leadership positions in the St. Louis area.

Mullenger spoke about the definition of heroes, and mentioned several he knew personally before they were killed in action. He also spoke about what it means to be a veteran, and to honor those who have elected to defend our country with their lives, if necessary. “A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and include their life,” he said. Memorial Day is a combination of somber reflection and profound gratitude, he said, and shared a quote from General Douglas MacArthur at the May 12, 1962:

“Duty, Honor, Country: those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”

– Douglas MacArthur

Mullenger then challenged students, asking, “What will be your rallying cry? What core values will demand you to live with appreciation and intent?” He exhorted them to be intentional with their decision-making, and intentional in their life pursuits. “After all,” he said, “what is the point of being alive if you’re not going to at least try to do something remarkable?”

Rainey introduced Skye Patton ’23 and Mason Boon ’23, the two co-heads of Upper School student government, to read aloud the names of our alumni and faculty who gave what President Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion to our country”:

  • Yeoman 2nd Class John Dwight Bridge ’37
  • Captain Henri Chouteau, Jr. ’36
  • Lieutenant René Auguste Chouteau ’39
  • Corporal Judson B. Conant ’42
  • 1st Lieutenant Grant R. “Tubby” Ellis, CDS Faculty
  • Colonel John Rison Fordyce, Jr. ’23
  • Captain John D. “Sisky” Franciscus ’25
  • 1st Lieutenant James Everett Fraser ’35
  • Ensign George B. Gannett, Jr. ’37
  • Lieutenant Edward Chase Garvey ’41
  • Captain Michael P. Getlin ’57
  • Cadet Scott Pope Hawkins ’28
  • Private 1st Class John Francis Hennessey III ’53
  • Lieutenant Alfred H. Herman II ’40
  • Corporal Waldo Clark Jackman, Jr. ’41
  • Corporal Carl S. Lawton, Jr. ’41
  • Staff Sergeant Donald C. McCord, Jr. ’31
  • 2nd Lieutenant Stratford Lee Morton, Jr. ’31
  • Lieutenant Edward T. Noland, Jr. ’36
  • Lieutenant Donald Alfred Oonk ’40
  • Lieutenant Walter Lewis Pfeffer, Jr. ’35
  • Pvt. 1st Class Christopher Podmaniczky ’64
  • 2nd Lieutenant James A. Sevin ’45
  • Corporal Willard B. Shelp, III ’42
  • Corporal David R. Small ’32
  • 1st Lieutenant Edwin T. Stanard, Jr. ’38
  • Lieutenant Howard V. Stephens, Jr. ’34
  • Lieutenant George S. Tiffany, Jr. ’25
  • Private 1st Class Harry G. Wells ’30
  • Lieutenant Stanard T. Wheaton ’32
  • Captain Elmer C. Wirtz, Jr. ’32
  • Lieutenant David P. Wohl, Jr. ’41
  • 1st Lieutenant James Schenler Wood ’61

Alana Doherty ’24 and Samuel Fontana ’23 played Taps as our community shared a moment of reverence for these fallen heroes, and the Upper School chorus sang My Country Tis of Thee and America the Beautiful.

Students, faculty, staff, and guests then somberly exited the building to see a fly-over by a B-25, a World War II-era bomber.

Thank you, Mr. Mullenger, for your service and for sharing your thoughts with our community, and thank you to all our veterans past and present, and those currently serving our country.