ISU will honor fallen soldiers from WWII and Vietnam in Gold Star Hall ceremony Nov. 7

Gold Star Hall

Gold Star Hall. Photo by Bob Elbert.

AMES, Iowa – Del Marks, a retired Iowa State University employee stopped by the Memorial Union recently to find the names of two fallen soldiers engraved on the wall of the Gold Star Hall. One was his uncle, who had died in World War II; the other was his high school classmate and ISU roommate, who had died in Vietnam. Marks shared their stories with Memorial Union staff and both will be among the four honored (see below) in the university’s annual Gold Star Hall Ceremony.

On Monday, Nov. 7, Marks, of Ames, will be in the audience when the university honors its casualties of war in the ceremony at 3:15 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. The honorees will be remembered through personal stories and photos. A reception and display of honorees' military memorabilia will follow the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.

Iowa State's Memorial Union was created in 1928 as a memorial to Iowa Staters who died in World War I. Their names are engraved in the walls of the union's Gold Star Hall. Former students' names are inscribed if they attended Iowa State full time for one or more semesters and died while in military service in a war zone. As names become known, they are added to the wall and the soldiers are remembered in the university's Veterans Day observance.

Although the names of this year's honorees were previously engraved on the memorial wall, their lives and sacrifices have not yet been recognized in a Gold Star Hall Ceremony.

  • Morris Rusch Marks, Lake Park, studied veterinary medicine and business at Iowa State in the 1930s. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942, and was killed during his sixth bombing attack over the Netherlands in February 1944.
  • Galen Dean Grethen, Emmetsburg, came to Iowa State in 1961 and stayed for two years before enlisting in the Army. He was a combat medic and paratrooper in Vietnam, where he was killed in April 1966.
  • Wayne William Gross, Carroll, came to Iowa State for graduate work in economics in 1967. The following year, he entered the Marines, and graduated from officers’ training school as a second lieutenant. Just one month after deployment in Vietnam, he was killed by sniper fire in August 1968.
  • Donald Gary Lammers, Forest City, graduated from Iowa State in 1966 with a degree in English and speech, although he already had enlisted in the Marine Corps. He went to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in March 1968, and his final flight was five months later in August 1968. 

A living memorial

In 1928, the names of 117 Iowa Staters who died during World War I were carved into the walls of the Gold Star Hall.

In 1969, 10 bronze plaques bearing the names of 369 Iowa State men who died in World War II were mounted on doors to the Gold Star Hall.

In 1984, the bronze plaques were removed when names from World War II, Korea and Vietnam were engraved in the limestone walls.

Name additions have also been made in 2003, 2006 through 2011 and 2013, adding overlooked servicemen from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, as well as Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.