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West Virginia State University ROTC Hall of Fame to Induct Three New Members

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
Oct. 11, 2021
West Virginia State University ROTC Hall of Fame to Induct Three New Members

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Three service members will be inducted Saturday in the West Virginia State University (WVSU) ROTC Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, in the Fannin S. Belcher Theater of the Davis Fine Arts Building.

WVSU’s ROTC Hall of Fame was created to recognize the accomplishments of its graduates who have excelled in their fields. This year’s inductees are: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Thomas A. Marks; Lt. Col. (Ret.) Otha R. Vannoy; and, Chaplain Lt. Col. (Ret.) Paul Franklin Willis, Sr. The ceremony will feature remarks from WVSU Interim President Ericke S. Cage and from Cadet Marcus Allen. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Marks earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from WVSU in 1961. A distinguished military graduate of the Lt. Colonel Thomas MarksROTC program, Marks’ previous assignments include duty in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Battalion S4, and Company Executive Officer before returning to West Virginia and serving in numerous assignments with the West Virginia National Guard and Reserve. Some of his awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. A Charleston, West Virginia, native, Marks is married to May Jane Marks and they have three children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Vannoy is a 1961 WVSU graduate with a mathematics degree and chemistry minor. Vannoy was in the ROTC band, Scabbard and Blade Military Fraternity and was a member of the West Virginia State baseball team. He Lt. Colonel Vannoyhas been a platoon leader with the Headquarters 83rd Infantry Division, Company Commander 779th Engineer Company and HQ Company 38th Ordnance Group. As a Major, Vannoy was the Equal Opportunity Officer for the 38th Ordnance Group, and later as the Lieutenant Colonel the Ammunition Officer. During Vannoy’s more than 27 years of service, he had assignments at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.; Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama; and two tours at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was Chief Controller of Ammunition. After retiring from the U.S. Army, he served as a purchasing agent for Union Carbide and Virginia Power where he later retired. Among his awards are the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Armed Service Medal. He is a native of Charleston, West Virginia.

Willis, Sr. graduated from West Virginia State College Teacher Training Junior and Senior High School in 1955 and then enrolled at WVSU with a major in Industrial Arts Education. During his senior year of college, Willis Lt. Colonel Williswas offered a position in the Printing Department as an instructor and he later graduated in 1961. He was employed in 1966 by the Xerox Corporation to teach graphic arts at the Huntington Job Corps Center for Young Women. Willis was called to the Christian ministry after meeting The Rev. Charles II. Smith of First Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia, and joining the church. He enrolled in the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology in Richmond, Virginia, in 1968 and earned a Masters of Divinity degree in 1972. While in seminary, Willis met a U.S. Army Chaplain and saw the need for African American chaplains in the Armed Forces. In 1973, Willis began his career as an Air Force Chaplain at Kesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. He then completed six assignments in the United States and three in foreign countries before completing 20 years of military service. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1993. Willis is married to Shirley Jean Davis and they have four children.

Since its inception, the Yellow Jacket ROTC Battalion has commissioned over 900 men and women as second lieutenants in the United States Army as well as produced more General Officers than any other ROTC program of its size in the country.

The ROTC Hall of Fame induction ceremony is part of Homecoming activities at WVSU. For more information, and a complete schedule of Homecoming events, visit https://connect.wvstateu.edu/pages/events/homecoming-2021.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
- WVSU –
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