Students + Campus

UCLA Veterans Day events to be held Nov. 10

Tennis legend Arthur Ashe’s brother, Johnnie, to speak about Vietnam and sacrificing for his brother

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Members of the UCLA community will gather at an on-campus ceremony Nov. 10 to honor those UCLA students, alumni, faculty and staff who have served in the U.S. military and fought in the nation’s wars.

Following the ceremony and an information fair, the second-annual Warrior Games will be held. Sponsored by the Veterans Resource Office, the Warrior Games will feature competition in events like a combat fitness test, ladder climb and riding a mechanical bull, and allow members of the UCLA community to get to know student veterans on campus. The Warrior Games will also include food and music.

WHO

Speakers will include:
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block
Johnnie Ashe, who served a second tour in Vietnam in place of his brother, tennis legend and UCLA alumnus Arthur Ashe, so Arthur could pursue his tennis career.
Mitchell LaFortune, who served in U.S. Army and the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

WHEN

10:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 10

WHERE

Wilson Plaza. (Map)

BACKGROUND

This will be the 10th annual Veterans Day ceremony held at UCLA. The tradition began in 2007 when UCLA dedicated a plaque to all the UCLA students, alumni, faculty and staff who have died while serving in the nation’s military. The plaque, located on the north side of the Student Activities Center, was inspired by the death of Army 2nd Lt. Mark Daily, a UCLA graduate who was killed in 2007 when a roadside bomb detonated beneath his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq.

SPEAKER BIOS

Johnnie Ashe is the brother of tennis legend and UCLA alumnus Arthur Ashe. Johnnie Ashe was born in 1948 and was raised in Richmond, Virginia, along with Arthur. After graduating from John Marshall High School, he enlisted in the United State Marine Corps in 1965, eventually becoming a warrant officer in 1977. Johnnie Ashe retired as a captain in 1985.  He served in Vietnam and concerned that his brother Arthur’s blossoming tennis career would be interrupted by service in Vietnam, made a remarkable sacrifice by volunteering for a second tour of duty to ensure Arthur would be able to focus on tennis. Johnnie Ashe’s selflessness allowed Arthur to fulfill his military obligations stateside and achieve numerous tennis milestones. Since his military service concluded, Johnnie has worked as a business owner, residential contractor and inspector, and has served as a role model to his children and churches in central Florida, where he currently lives.

Mitchell LaFortune joined the Army in 2006 because he was driven by a desire to participate in U.S. foreign policy. The former English major found himself developing counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan during his deployments to the region. His time in service earned him a job with the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he worked alongside senior policymakers on matters regarding Iran’s influence. LaFortune returned to Afghanistan twice in support of U.S. combat operations, relying upon his experiences and skills learned from his time in the Army. LaFortune aspires to create films that educate and accurately reflect the reality of U.S. foreign policy and the complexities of the Middle East. He is currently working on a project that examines violence, radicalization and the impact of war on combat veterans post-9/11.

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