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UK Army ROTC Inducts Three Community Leaders Into Wall of Fame

By Whitney Harder

(March 2, 2015) â€” Three University of Kentucky Army ROTC alumni and community leaders were honored last week with induction into the UK Army ROTC Wall of Fame. Inductees included  Lt. Col. (retired) Keith Jackson, Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services chief; attorney Pierce Hamblin; and Maj. (retired) Marty Pinkston.  

At the UK Army ROTC annual Mentorship Breakfast Thursday, Feb. 26, cadets, UK Army ROTC leadership and guests gathered to praise the men for their contributions in the United States Army and to the UK community. Inductees also shared their experiences as soldiers and UK Army ROTC cadets, and offered words of wisdom to current cadets.  

"They served during their military career with confidence, commitment and character, leaving lasting legacies and positive impacts on those they led. And they continue to do so by leading in our communities, supporting soldiers and veterans, and mentoring our cadets," said Lt. Col. and Professor of Military Science Shawn Umbrell. "They have given and continued to give in ways that honor our profession and create a better environment for those around them. So we honor them this morning by inducting them into our Wall of Fame."

Jackson, the first African American to serve as fire chief in Lexington, graduated from UK with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1987. A cadet in Army ROTC at UK, he also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After serving 27 years in the reserves and a 12-month deployment in Iraq, Jackson joined the Lexington Division of Fire in 1991, working his way up from paramedic, captain, and major to interim chief. In 2012, he was named permanent chief.

Jackson credited the U.S. Army and UK Army ROTC with helping him find direction during his sophomore year of college.

"I chose to become a member of the United States Army and it actually helped save me, saved my life as far as a direction…it gave me my mantra. My mantra has always been 'opportunity is the great equalizer,' and that means that given the opportunity to do good things, you can do good things," Jackson said at the ceremony.

Pinkston, former deputy commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA), graduated from UK in 1979 with a degree in history and commissioned as a second lieutenant. After four years of active duty in Texas, Pinkston returned to the Bluegrass to serve more than 20 years in the Kentucky Army National Guard. After a post in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and several in KDVA, eventuallybeing appointed deputy commissioner, Pinkston retired in 2008.  

Sharing a story about one of his mentors, Pinkston advised UK Army ROTC cadets, saying, "If that mentor doesn't walk up and grab you by the stacking swivel and say, 'I'm your mentor,' go find one."

Hamblin, a litigator at Landrom and Shouse and adjunct professor at the UK College of Law, received his degree in business administration from UK and commissioned as a second lieutenant through UK Army ROTC in 1973. In 1977, he received his juris doctor from the UK College of Law, and in 1986 graduated from the U.S. Army's Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School (JAG School) at the University of Virginia. A distinguished graduate of the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Officer Course for 1977-1978, Hamblin ended his service as JAG Officer for an Army Training Brigade.

"How do you learn leadership? How do you learn to care for others and let them know it? How do you go through life without letting your actions be influenced by your fears?" Hamblin asked cadets. "You do exactly what you're doing. You take your military training, your military profession, and that teaches you all three things."