Distinguished Hawkeye veterans honored in annual awards ceremony


The Daily Iowan; Photo by Ben Sm

Former coach Don Peterson accepts awards on behalf of Nile Kinnick and Hayden Fry during the Hawkeyes Distinguished Veterans Awards event at the IMU on Wednesday. Spc. 4 David Drake U.S. Army, Cpt. Luther Smith U.S. Army Air Corps, Cpt. Jeremy Williams U.S. Army Reserves, HM Willard L. “Sandy” Boyd U.S. Navy, ENS Nile Clarke Kinnick Jr. U.S. Navy, and Cpt. Hayden Fry U.S. Marine Corps were all names that were honored for the award this year. The award, which includes five recipients each year, was established in 2015 to honor Hawkeyes who have served in the Armed Forces. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Grace Lynn Keller, [email protected]

Six Hawkeye veterans were honored at the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Awards Ceremony on Wednesday night in the IMU.

The ceremony honored former University of Iowa President Sandy Boyd, corpsman of the Navy; former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry, Marine captain; 1939 Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick, Navy ensign; UI graduate in mechanical engineering Luther Smith, Army Air Corps captain; UI graduate David Drake, Army specialist 4; and UI doctoral student Jeremy Williams, Army Reserves captain.

Zachary Buettner, the event organizer and an active duty Army logistics officer, said the origins of the annual awards ceremony involved the history of the IMU.

“It actually started about three years ago,” he said. “It was started to revitalize the link between the Iowa Memorial Union and its dedication to the soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.”

Buettner, a member of the committee that selects the honorees, also described how the veterans are chosen.

“We just try to find a group of distinguished Hawkeye veterans we can recognize,” Buttoner said. “The ones we chose this year absolutely meet the criteria. There are thousands of others we could’ve chosen, but these ones are absolutely qualified.”

He also noted the award was not just an alumni award, and anyone who identifies as a Hawkeye can be nominated.

“The criteria to be recognized are a strong connection to the University of Iowa, honorable service to your country, military accomplishments and contributions, and service to the community,” Buettner said.

One area the committee has lacked in is honoring female veterans, he said. Part of the reason for this is the inability for females to serve in leadership and combat positions in the U.S. military until recently and the lack of records.

“We realized we have failed to recognize any female veterans,” Buettner said.

To fix this, Buettner said the committee has put out statements encouraging people to nominate any female veterans connected to the university.

David Drake, a veteran and honoree, said he usually doesn’t like to accept awards, but this one has meant more to him than he originally imagined.

“I didn’t think much of it until I realized I really am proud to be an Iowan, and I’m proud of being a veteran,” Drake said. “It means a lot more than I would have expected; it’s nothing I ever dreamed of happening.”

Drake was drafted during the Vietnam War and served as a specialist in the U.S. Army.

“I didn’t volunteer for anything,” Drake said. “I went when they called, and I’m glad I did.”

As a UI graduate, Drake has made a career for himself as a freelance writer since 1981 and has written or cowritten 80 books.

“When I got back from war, I wrote a great deal, just trying to get my head straight,” he said.

Willard Boyd, the son of Sandy Boyd, said his father is also honored to receive the award.

“It’s a great honor for him to be among the awardees,” Willard Boyd said.

Sandy Boyd served in the U.S. Navy and Marines as a pharmacist’s mate, third class, from 1935 to 1947, and first came to the university as a law professor in 1954. He was selected as president in 1969.

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