Virginia Tech to add six names to the Pylons

Courtesy of Virginia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. – On Thursday, Virginia Tech announced that it will be adding the names of six alumni to the Pylons during a ceremony next week. 

University officials say that five of the alumni died during the Vietnam War era, and the sixth died in an October training exercise. 

Below are the names that will be added to the Pylons: 

  • Tech. Sgt. Peter Kraines, Class of 2010 
  • Sgt. William E. Hawkins, Class of 1971
  • Maj. Norman R. Hurst, Class of 1952 
  • Spc. Fletcher L. Lewis, Class of 1965 
  • Lt. j.g. William L. Sloop, Class of 1967 
  • 2nd Lt. Jerry W. Smith, Class of 1972

The names on the memorial are servicemen and women who were alumni or students of Virginia Tech who died while serving in the military, starting with World War I. 

Westbound Alumni Mall traffic will be turned around at Torgersen Bridge. Authorities will be in place to help guide drivers around the closures.

Officials say Kraines earned a degree in marketing and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after graduation to serve as a special tactics pararescueman with the 24th Special Operations Wing. He died Oct. 8 of injuries suffered in a training incident while performing mountain rescue techniques. 

The five other men are being added after the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech Alumni Association issued a call in the spring for any servicemen or women whose names were missing from the Pylons. 

Hawkins was a student at Virginia Tech from fall 1967 to fall 1968, and studied biology and animal science. He died on May 26, 1970, while serving in the U.S. Army as a medic during a recovery mission, when his helicopter was hit by a grenade in Vietnam. 

Graduating in 1952, Hurst studied animal husbandry and went on to be a combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force, flying around 90 missions in North Vietnam. He died on Sept. 15, 1969, while serving as an instructor pilot at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona when his aircraft caught fire during a training exercise. 

Lewis student physics and chemistry from 1961 to 1966 and was shot and killed on Jan. 31, 1969 while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. 

Graduating in 1967 with a degree in mechanical engineering, Sloop died Aug. 21, 1969, while serving with the Navy and died during his advanced pilot training when his plane was involved in a midair collision. 

Smith graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1972 and died Jan. 23, 1974, while serving in the U.S. Air Force. His plane crashed during a ground attack training mission. 

The last name added to the Pylons was that of U.S. Navy Ensign Sarah Mitchell of the Class of 2017, who died during a training exercise in 2018. Mitchell's was the 432nd name added to the Pylons and the first woman.

The ceremony is set to start at 3 p.m. at the Pylons, and the event is open to the public. The Gregory Guard, the corps' precision drill team, will perform a rifle salute and buglers will play echo taps during the event. 

Portions of Alumni Mall and Drillfield Drive will be closed from 2:45 p.m. to about 4 p.m. Alumni Mall will be closed between Drillfield Drive and Torgersen Bridge. The portion of Drillfield Drive that passes in front of the Pylons will be closed between Kent and Stanger streets.

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