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SU Honors Highest-Ranking Female Alumnus at Veterans Day Ceremony

John Smith

A large crowd attended Syracuse University’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony Friday morning at Hendricks Chapel, complete with members of the 198th Army Band.  A Syracuse University Alumnus from Oriskany  Army Major General Peggy Combs retired Thursday night on campus.  She reflected on the best part of her 33 ½ years of service.

"You meet many so like-hearted people who are committed to the values of the nation and upholding the constitution.  There's no other brotherhood and sisterhood like it.  The camaraderie with your brothers and sisters in arms is very unique.  It's a very small profession...when you think how many people actually serve.  There's only 1.4 million on active duty right now.” 

Combs has earned the distinction of becoming the highest-ranking female officer who ever attended SU.  In her keynote address, Combs encouraged others to do something bigger than themselves, carry out integrity and honor and hold ‘personal courage’ to do the right things in life.  Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie feels the merits of her impressive military career will be far reaching.

Credit Moriah Humiston / WAER News
SU alumnus and Army Major General Peggy Combs (ret.) was the keynote speaker and honoree at this year's Veterans Day ceremony.

She represents a tremendous exemplar for all of the men and women who come behind her.  The opportunity to celebrate her in public ways like today does create a sense among those who might want to aspire to get to where she's been that they can do this, too.”

Haynie says Syracuse University’s legacy of service to veterans dates back to World War II.  About 1,200 military connected students were enrolled at the start of the fall semester.  Haynie says that number barely reached more than 200 students five years ago.  He credits Chancellor Kent Syverud with setting fourth a strategic objective for SU to become the national example of how a university can serve veterans. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at