Aiken, SC (03/28/2023) — The University of South Carolina Aiken's Office of Veteran and Military Student Success will host a reception remembering John W. "Coach" Abshire at 1 p.m. Friday, March 31, at the Penland Building Courtyard on the university's campus. Abshire's wife, Patty, will officially endow the Captain John W. Abshire U.S. Army Reserve ROTC Pacer Detachment Scholarship as part of the event.
A retired captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and native of Goshen, Indiana, Coach was one of the best-known figures on the university's campus. A former lifeguard, army tank commander, leader of an Indiana-based petroleum company, and North American motorhome enthusiast - he moved to Aiken from Bloomington, Indiana, after retiring from the Indiana State Chamber.
"We're grateful to have lived among a true hero and legend in Coach, and we feel fortunate that he chose to commit his time and focus to the success of our students and campus community," said USC Aiken Chancellor Dr. Dan Heimmermann. "Our campus would not be what it is today without the generous support of Coach and Patty. They have certainly left their mark on each of us and in the students who have and will benefit from their spirit of giving."
While in Aiken, Coach was said to have adopted USC Aiken as his own; much like he had done with Indiana University, where he had received the nickname "Coach" as a tribute to time spent with his beloved Hoosiers and their head football coach.
At USC Aiken, Coach attended sporting events and sat in on classes, spending numerous hours with faculty, staff and students. He and Patty gave generously in support of the university, including gifts to the nursing program, where the adult simulation lab is named in their honor, as well as the donation of the horse, "Spirit," that stands in the fountain at the university's entrance.
"We're honored to remember coach and his military service to our country through the success of our ROTC students," said Robert A. Murphy, director of the Office of Veteran and Military Student Success at USC Aiken. "The strength of his legacy is not only what he brought to the lives of those on campus while living, but the impact he will continue to have on generations of future military officers to come."
The 2021-2022 academic year marked the official start of the USC Aiken Pacer Detachment, Army ROTC program, which offers a full complement of military science courses and field training on campus. Now with 12 students in the Cadet Corps, 25 new cadets are expected for the fall semester.
According to Murphy, approximately 10% of USC Aiken students have a military-affiliation. The mission of the Office of Veteran and Military Student Success is to advocate for veterans, service members and their families in their educational pursuits as they transition from military service to civilian life.
For more information, visit usca.edu/vmss.