Growing up in New Orleans, Maj. Gen. Lee K. Levy II always knew he wanted to serve his country — a boyhood desire that turned into a 29-year career in the Air Force and a posting at the Pentagon, where he serves the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president.
Levy, a 1985 LSU graduate, along with seven other LSU military alumni, was inducted into the LSU military Hall of Honor during a ceremony Saturday morning at the War Memorial on the university’s Parade Ground.
Sponsored by the Cadets of the Ole War Skule, the ceremony featured a wreath laying, a parade of the LSU Corps of Cadets of the Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and the Southern University Navy ROTC unit.
The LSU Marching Band played patriotic music, and when the national anthem was played, the noisy tailgating activity nearby where Tigers fans were preparing for Saturday’s LSU-Alabama game became respectfully quiet.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a love for airplanes, a love for aviation and always thought liberty and democracy was something you have to give back to,” Levy said prior to the ceremony.
In his current position, Levy said, he advises the Joint Chiefs of Staff “on all things logistic — transportation, medicine, supplies, all the things it takes to deploy today’s modern combat forces.”
Levy noted LSU has a long tradition of men and women who serve in the military, referring to the Hall of Honor inductees around him and the cadets no longer living whose names are engraved on the curved memorial wall near the towering flagpole.
LSU President F. King Alexander, in his welcoming remarks to the group, said the Parade Ground soon will be filled with students who “are now sleeping comfortably in their dorm room or apartments somewhere around the university. They can do that because of the freedom that we have because of the men and women who are protecting our freedoms all around the world.”
Alexander thanked the inductees for their service and congratulated them on behalf of “our 250,000 alumni, our friends of the university, our faculty and staff and our students — and it’s a great day to beat Alabama!”
The only woman in this year’s class of honorees is retired Army Brig. Gen. Karlynn Peltz O’Shaughnessy, LSU Class of 1979. Her career began with the 82nd Airborne Division and spanned several decades of commands ranging from the Eighth Army in Seoul, South Korea, to the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“I grew up in a military family. It was something I very much loved, and it was an opportunity to serve my country,” O’Shaughnessy said following the ceremony. “The best assignments I ever had were being in command — being responsible for our outstanding young soldiers and to make sure they are trained and ready to deploy.”
The only honoree not present was the late Army Col. Joseph A. Macaluso, LSU Class of 1942, who landed on Utah Beach in World War II and fought across Europe in five campaigns, netting numerous medals for his service. His medal and certificate were accepted by one of his sons, retired Army Lt. Col. Wayne Macaluso, of Baton Rouge, one of two dozen Macalusos in the audience.
“This is something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time — just to honor my dad and the rest of the World War II veterans and the guys from the 83rd Infantry Division,” Wayne Macaluso said.
The ceremony came to a thunderous close when the Army ROTC’s Tiger Battalion provided a gun salute by firing two 75 mm howitzers that filled the Parade Ground with gray smoke and seemed sure to awaken any of the students Alexander talked about who were still sleeping.
Also inducted into the Hall of Honor this year:
Col. Patrick R. Bossetta, Louisiana National Guard, LSU Class of 1982.
Col. Dr. James Gregory “Greg” Jolissaint, U.S. Army, retired, LSU Class of 1987.
Capt. Brad J. Juneau, of Leesburg, Virginia; U.S. Army, career in intelligence services, LSU Class of 1985.
Lt. Col. William G. “Geary” Mason, U.S. Army/Army National Guard, retired, LSU Class of 1984.
Brig. Gen. Dale E. Webb, U.S. Air Force/U.S. Army, retired, LSU Class of 1976.
For information, visit www.olewarskule.lsu.edu