“We’re here today to honor our veterans, to remember their contributions, their sacrifices, their courage, and their selfless dedication to the freedom of this nation,” Lt. Joseph T. Liles ’03 told those gathered for the Veterans Day ceremony at the Legion Memorial Building.
Fifteen years ago, I put on my first uniform as a new cadet in Battery B and it was at that moment that my life was changed forever.
“Fifteen years ago, I put on my first uniform as a new cadet in Battery B and it was at that moment that my life was changed forever. I had no way of knowing exactly where this journey would take me nor how long it would last, but I knew that I was going to join the military after my four years at Culver,” Liles said.
Liles attended the United States Naval Academy, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Systems Engineering. He then relocated to Pensacola, Fla., for flight training followed by P-3C training in Jacksonville, Fla. He earned his Naval Flight Officer wings in 2008 and reported to the Patrol Squadron One in Whidbey Island, Wash., in 2009.
Being at Culver taught me the importance of being part of something greater than myself
“Being at Culver taught me the importance of being part of something greater than myself and that it was about serving a cause that’s more important than you. Through the honor code, community service, and the leadership opportunities afforded to me, Culver helped mold the man I am today and continues to play an active role in my life,” Liles said.
“Like so many other Americans, my life was forever changed on September 11th, 2001. As a junior at the time, I watched live coverage of the terrorist attacks from the faculty lounge in the humanities building; I was speechless and full of emotion. I did not know anyone that perished on 9/11, however I shed tears with the rest of the nation that day for the sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers that were lost. Since that day, Culver has had 86 alumni stand up and take the enlistment oath to defend this country like so many other Culver alumni before us. These men and women knew that they were going into harm’s way after they joined, but did so without any reservation.”
From 2009-2012, Liles completed deployments to the Middle East, Western Pacific, and Central America in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror. As tactical coordinator and mission commander of his aircraft, Liles led successful drug and anti-submarine warfare operations during these deployments.
Liles then reported to the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command as a Carrier Strike Group training instructor. He has conducted 16 Strike Group and Independent Deployer training events based out of San Diego, Norfolk, Pearl Harbor, and Forward Deployed Naval Forces.
As a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Lt. Liles has achieved every qualification available to a P-3C Naval Flight Officer. He has flown over 1,100 hours in the P-3C and P-8A. Individual honors and awards include the Air Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terror Expenditionary Medal, and Global War on Terror Service Medal.
“I have now served proudly in the United States Navy for over 11 years and not a day passes where I am not reminded of those who sacrificed so much, or are prepared to, so that others may live freely in this country and around the world.
“As such, Veterans Day has always held a special place in my heart. From my first days here at Culver in which we learned the significance of the Legion Building here behind me and the gold stars beside it in remembering all the Culver graduates that have sacrificed their lives for their country.”
Liles added the United States Armed Forces is comprised of 1.4 million men and women with up to 250,000 deployed overseas at any given time. Along with the veterans, it is fitting to remember and honor those currently serving, the families of those who have served and are serving, and those who will serve in the future.
He finished his remarks with a quote from Edmund Burke: “’The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ This quote reminds me daily that there are millions of men and women doing their part to protect our nation and the world against evil, and as we honor those men and women today I hope that each of you will consider how you can apply your skills and talents to serve something greater than yourself . . . to live out the ideals of Culver in your daily lives.”
Culver Academies’ Veterans Day ceremony recognizes the sacrifices made by Culver alumni during times of war. Since 1925, Culver has recognized the sacrifices of American and Allied soldiers during World War I at 11 a.m. on November 11. The ceremony has changed very little since that original Legion Memorial Building dedication ceremony on Nov. 2, 1924.