ETBU awards war veteran with honorary doctorate
By Special to the News Messenger
May 15, 2012 at 10 p.m.
East Texas Baptist University bestowed another honor upon a decorated war veteran. Major General, United States Army (Retired) Vernon B. Lewis, Jr. of Marshall was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the University's spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5, 2012.
Lewis, who was the commencement speaker for ETBU's Centennial class, is a 1947 graduate of Marshall High School. He attended East Texas Baptist College before being commissioned in1951 at the Army Ground School in Fort Riley, Kansas. Lewis has a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Science Degree from George Washington University in Washington. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk and the National War College in Washington. Lewis currently serves as a member of the ETBU Board of Trustees.
Lewis has received the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, two Meritorious Service Medals, 13 Air Medals, a Commendation Medal for Valor, and a number of foreign awards. He served three combat tours in Korea and Vietnam and spent five years at the Pentagon working with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations.
In his commencement address, Lewis shared with the graduates, "This degree you are about to receive is the gate to your future. It is your launching pad. It is not an end to itself but a means to a greater end. It tells the world, you've got what it takes to achieve and that you can commit to an objective and reach it."
Lewis also reminded the future leaders that education is a continuing life long process. He strongly encouraged them to "live your faith, be an active player in carrying out the Lord's agenda."
Following his commencement address in the second ceremony of the day, ETBU President Dr. Dub Oliver made the surprise announcement, "It is with great pleasure, that we award Major General Vernon Lewis with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from East Texas Baptist University."
"It was a complete surprise, I had no idea and couldn't in my wildest dreams ever believe that I would receive such an honor. I am very humbled," said Lewis later.
"Vernon Lewis is another excellent example of the great heritage of East Texas Baptist University. He is an amazing leader, a great American patriot, and a faithful servant of Christ. We are proud to honor him in this way," remarked Dr. Dub Oliver, ETBU President.
Lewis founded and served as chief executive officer for Cypress International and MPRI, retiring in 2000. In his retirement, he continues to serve by being on the Board of Directors of Armed Forces Services Corporation, and the National Board of Armed Services YMCA.
Lewis has been married to Pat Lewis for 59 years. They have three children, Jeannie, Teresa, and Vernon B. Lewis III (Buddy), and four grandchildren.