Extraordinary Stories of Courage Dominate the Annual Veterans Celebration

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UMass Boston Celebrates Veterans Community, Presents Scholarships and Awards at its Annual Celebration of Service“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to act in spite of it,” Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts reminded his fellow veterans and their guests during his keynote address at UMass Boston’s annual Celebration of Service event aboard the Spirit of Boston cruise ship. 

Over 200 people attended the event on November 10, held every year around the Veterans Day holiday to honor the service of the many student, faculty, staff, and alumni veterans on campus, veterans in the community, and their families.

Caption: Gold Star families on the Celebration of Service veterans cruise

United States Army Staff Sergeant Pitts, who served his country from 2003-2009 and was deployed twice to Afghanistan, shared moving stories of remarkable bravery by his nine Army “brothers” who all lost their lives in a bloody battle and saved his life on July 13, 2008.

Because one of the men applied a tourniquet to Pitts’ wounded leg, and because the medics and a helicopter crew risked their lives under enemy fire to rescue him, he is alive today. 

“Even after enemy fire struck him in the helmet, he got up and manned his machine gun again until he got killed,” Pitts said, describing the courage of his machine gun operator that day.

Caption: Kyran Kennedy Memorial Scholarship recipients Katharine Fanara (center) and Anthony Martin (second from left) with the Kennedy family members and Katherine’s husband, Matthew

The university awarded five scholarships to students at the event: two Kyran Kennedy Memorial Scholarships, one Carron Family Scholarship, and two Arredondo Brothers Memorial Scholarships.

Caption: Award of Excellence recipient Albert Man and his mother

The university honored Captain Albert Man with the William Joiner Award for Excellence.

 “Not all heroes are tall and wear capes. My mother is only 5 feet tall …

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