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Operation Nighthawks of Honor basketball doubleheader to recognize Col. Gerald Lord

UNG will honor retired Army Col. Gerald Lord at the fifth annual Operation Nighthawks of Honor ceremony on Feb. 26.

On Feb. 26, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will honor an alumnus who used the lessons of leadership he learned in the Corps of Cadets and the military to mold today's Army leaders. The university's fifth annual Operation Nighthawks of Honor ceremony, which doubles as Spirit Night, will honor retired Army Col. Gerald Lord.

The basketball doubleheader against rival Young Harris College tips off with the women's game at 5:30 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

Lord, '61, served for more than 30 years, including a stint as professor of military science (PMS) and commandant of cadets at UNG from 1984-1988. Lord also served combat tours in Vietnam. His final active-duty assignment was as commander of the Army Garrison in Fort McPherson, Georgia, from 1988-1991. Lord served another stint as UNG commandant while also serving as director of Auxiliary Services from 1997-1999 and was associate vice president for business and finance from 2001-2008.

"Operation Nighthawks of Honor blends together our entire campus in a collective effort to honor UNG's rich tradition of military excellence," said Lindsay Reeves, UNG director of athletics. "We respect and appreciate all that armed service members, past and present, sacrifice for our country and, in conjunction with the Boars' Head Corps of Cadets, are especially looking forward to honoring Col. Lord at this year’s ceremony."

Six graduates from his time leading the Corps went on to become Army generals: Brig. Gen. Ron Stephens, Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Jarrard, Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert, Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard and retired Brig. Gen. Michael L. Scholes.

"I have known Col. Lord for over 30 years, both professionally and personally. He has always been a consummate professional who truly loves North Georgia," said retired Maj. Richard Neikirk, assistant commandant of cadets at UNG. "This is an honor he will never forget. You won’t find many individuals like him who demonstrate the dedication and determination to make this institution a better place."

Lord, who has also been a longtime supporter of UNG Athletics, will be honored at halftime of the women's basketball game Feb. 26.

"It's neat to honor someone who has put so much into North Georgia," said women's basketball head coach Buffie Burson.

Men's basketball head coach Dan Evans is eager to experience the combination of Operation Nighthawks of Honor and Spirit Night for the first time.

"It's a collection of the things we do really well here and the things we should be incredibly proud of," Evans said. "For our players, it's certainly going to be an exciting night."

The game will mark the start of UNG Athletics' yearlong tribute to the nation's armed forces.

gather in the grove


Lord earned a Bachelor of Science in physical education and history from UNG, and he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in infantry upon graduation in 1961.

His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with 19 Oak Leaf Clusters, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star and Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab.

He was inducted into the Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015.

Proceeds from the games will be donated to the Col. Benjamin Purcell Corps of Cadets Endowment Scholarship. Nighthawk Athletics has donated more than $2,700 to Corps scholarship funds since the initiative's inception on the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Lord will speak to the Corps of Cadets before they march to the Convocation Center for the evening's events.

One of six federally designated senior military colleges in the nation, UNG is The Military College of Georgia, and its nationally recognized Army ROTC program attracts students from across the state, region and nation.

UNG has commissioned more than 50 flag officers, seven of whom are currently serving in a variety of command positions. Many other UNG alumni completed successful military careers, and hundreds are currently serving on active duty today at all levels of command in the Army and National Guard.

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