Founders’ Day to Kick Off Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War


Retired Lt. Gen. Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter to Speak, Recognize Veterans

MACON – Mercer University's observance of Founders' Day 2015 will serve as the kickoff event for a three-year commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense began a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War that will continue through 2025. As part of this initiative, Mercer is serving as a commemorative partner and will organize events between 2015 and 2017 to support the goals of the national program.

The annual Founders' Day convocation, which is sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA), will be on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m., in Willingham Auditorium. It will feature an address by retired Lt. Gen. Claude M. “Mick” Kicklighter, a 1955 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and current University trustee who until last month served as director of the Department of Defense Office of Commemorations, which is coordinating the national Vietnam War anniversary.

This is the first event that will be part of Mercer's commemoration, and the University will recognize and pay tribute to alumni who are Vietnam War veterans. Those in attendance will be presented with a special lapel pin by Kicklighter and Mercer President William D. Underwood.

“Each year, the Student Government Association hosts Founders' Day to honor a notable alum and allow students to experience Mercer through another's eyes. Founders' Day is more than just a lecture. It's an opportunity to reflect upon all that Mercer was and still is to this day. Mercer University is not just a place in Macon. It is that unique feeling that you experience when you first step on this campus and carry on throughout your life,” said Victoria Conley, vice president of SGA.

“This year, the Heritage Life Committee of SGA decided to honor Mercer's commitment to the national Vietnam commemoration and asked Lt. Gen. Kicklighter to join us. We are quite thrilled to have Lt. Gen. Kicklighter, a Mercer trustee, share how our university prepared him for a career in the military and look forward to hearing the many ways Mercer has impacted his life and family.”

Kicklighter served the United States as an Army officer for more than 35 years, with overseas tours in France, Germany, Iran, the Netherlands and Vietnam.

He commanded the U.S. Army, Pacific (Western Command) from July 1989 until his retirement on Aug. 31, 1991.

In Vietnam, Kicklighter served as assistant chief of staff for the 101st Airborne Division from 1970-1971. In 1975-1976, he served as a logistics management staff office for the Office of Defense Representative in Tehran, Iran.

Major command assignments for Kicklighter were commanding the Division Artillery for the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Stewart from 1977-1978. From 1984-1986, he commanded the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks.

Other important assignments included director of security assistant for the U.S. Army Security Assistant Center and chief of staff for the U.S. Army Material Development and Readiness Command in Alexandria, Virginia, from 1981-1984. Prior to his final Hawaiian command, Kicklighter served as assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics and director of the army staff for the Office of the Chief of Staff in Washington, D.C.

He received several awards during his military service, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. He has also received several foreign decorations.

Since his retirement from active duty in 1991, Kicklighter has held several senior government positions, including serving as inspector general for the Department of Defense from 2007-2008.

In 2011, he was named director of the Department of Defense Office of Commemorations to oversee the Vietnam War commemoration program. He previously served as executive director of the commemoration committee for the 50th anniversary of World War II and provided oversight for the writing of a plan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Korean War.

Kicklighter graduated from Mercer in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in biology and later from George Washington University with a master's degree in management of natural resources. He also attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.