Lexington, Ky --
Recruiting Station Louisville conducted its 45th annual Col. William R. Higgins Memorial Mess Night at the Campbel House Hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, March 28, 2015.
This event serves to solidify the commitment of young men and women to work for and earn commissions in the United States Marine Corps, while honoring and respecting those who came before in service to the nation.
The tradition was started in 1970 by 1st Lt. Higgins, who was the RS Louisville Officer Selection Officer at that time. A Danville, Kentucky, native and graduate of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967, Higgins spearheaded this event as a way to honor his fallen roommate and university classmate, 2nd Lt. Terrence C. Graves.
Following his commission in 1967 as a Marine officer, Graves was killed in action during Vietnam combat operations in 1968. For his heroic actions on Feb. 16, 1968, Graves was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest recognition for military valor.
In recent years, this event was renamed to honor the memory of Higgins himself, who started the traditional Mess Night at RS Louisville.
On Feb. 19, 1988, Higgins was abducted by Hezbollah terrorists, along the Lebanon-Israel border. He was held captive for more than a year and later murdered.
Each year during Mess Night, officer candidates from colleges and universities throughout Kentucky, southern Indiana and southern Ohio are awarded for excellence in leadership and physical fitness. This year, three of the awards went to Miami University students. Ryan Muzzarelli, a senior at MU, was awarded the Col. William R. Higgins Leadership Award for his outstanding leadership within the Platoon Leader Class. Thomas Weston, also a senior, was awarded the Capt. Eric Terhune Iron Man Physical Fitness Award for his outstanding performance on the Marine Corps physical fitness test. Samuel Bachman, a sophomore, was awarded the Lieutenant Presley N. O’Bannon Memorial Award for outstanding junior officer candidate leadership.
These students are Officer Candidates with the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class and are working to earn a commission in the Marine Corps upon completion of college. For information about PLC, please contact your nearest Officer Selection Team.