COLUMBIA — Col. George Boyd was the honored guest Thursday at Columbia College’s fifth annual Military Recognition Day.
"The most important activity in my life was serving in the United States military," Boyd told the gathering in Bass Commons. The college, which has 18 locations on military bases, prides itself on its connection to service members.
*Boyd presented the Col. Charles E. McGee Scholarship, named for an alumnus of the school. The two were members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American aviators for the U.S. armed forces.
"It is an honor to present scholarships to youngsters who have earned them," said Boyd, who is retired and lives in Wichita, Kan.
The scholarship went to Stephanie McNiel**, who has been with the Army for five years and is taking courses at the college's Springfield location and online.
Daniel Brizendine, president of the Columbia College Student Veterans Club, accepted the honor on her behalf. In a later interview, he paid tribute to Boyd.
"It is phenomenal to have someone who paved the way for military co-educational training, which started with the Tuskegee Airmen," Brizendine said.
Military Recognition Day included a flag-raising ceremony and singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America."
The McGee scholarship was one of two presented. The Ousley Family Veterans Service Center Scholarship went to Sandy Nixon**, who is working on her bachelor's degree in business administration online and at Columbia College's Fort Worth, Texas, location. Nixon, who enlisted in the Army Reserve, was called to active duty during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, according to information presented at the morning ceremony.
Brizendine accepted on her behalf as well.
After the ceremony, Boyd said, "Education is one thing we need to insist on and promote in order to be successful in anything else."
Asked what he most wanted people to know, he said, "It is important to cherish our American citizenship. Some people don’t know how good it is."
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