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College Holds 17th Annual Veterans Salute

USMC Gunnery Sgt. with 15 Years of Service Is Featured Speaker

By Rob Goldberg Jr.
PCC Media Relations Director

PCC saluted the nation's veterans Nov. 11 with a program in the Goess Student Center that featured remarks from USMC Gunnery Sgt. Marie Voegel.


WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College joined the nation Tuesday in honoring members of the country’s military – past and present – for the sacrifices they have made during America's wars for the cause of peace.

This year’s Veterans Salute, the 17th PCC has held in commemoration of Veterans Day, took place in the Craig F. Goess Student Center and featured remarks from U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Marie Voegel.

Currently serving as ordnance chief for Marine Attack Squadron 542 (VMA-542) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Voegel joined the Marines in 1999. Her more than 15 years as a Marine includes service as a drill instructor and deployment to Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch/Southern Focus and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Though women represent just 8 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps, Voegel says she “sometimes forgets” she’s any different from her fellow Marines.

“I’m just a ‘gunny’ in the Marine Corps,” she says. “I’ve never had a bad experience [as a Marine] because I’m a woman …. I’m different, but I’ve never been mistreated. It’s been a good experience.”

Voegel, whose personal awards include the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with one gold star) and Good Conduct Medal (with three bronze stars), says the Marines she oversees operate under the belief that “the gunny can fix anything.”

And while she admits that she may “yell a little too much” at them at times, she says the emotion comes from her desire to see all Marines do their best and be successful.

At the conclusion of her speech, Voegel asked attendees to thank veterans and their families for their sacrifices.

“A veteran is someone who is willing to write the United States a blank check for up to and including their lives,” she said.

In addition to Voegel’s presentation, this year’s Veterans Salute featured a video of PCC student veterans, a JROTC Color Guard from South Central High School posting and retiring the colors, and the PCC Chorale singing the National Anthem.

In his opening remarks, PCC President G. Dennis Massey said 457 veterans and their dependents are enrolled at the college this fall. That figure, he said, does not include students enrolled in non-credit courses.

Massey said he anticipates the number of veterans at PCC to grow in the years to come, and he noted that the college, which has been deemed “military-friendly” by G.I. Jobs magazine, funds a veteran outreach specialist position to directly serve veterans and their dependents.