By Evan Lips
LOWELL -- All gave some, some gave all.
It was with that message yesterday that UMass Lowell inducted four World War II veterans and Squadron N-12 of the National Society of Pershing Rifles into the school's Veterans Hall of Fame.
Standing in front of Cumnock Hall before the ceremony, squadron member Joe Cartwright pointed across the street at the fourth floor of Ames Hall, his home in 1962 when he was a freshman at Lowell Technical Institute.
"What I remember most was that it was hotter than Hades in my room during the spring," Cartwright joked.
The campus, he said, is almost unrecognizable now. For starters, Cartwright said, the Costello Gymnasium housed a nuclear reactor when he was a senior in 1967.
But Cartwright and others said one thing that hasn't changed is UMass Lowell's commitment to the roughly 600 student veterans enrolled at the school today.
Chancellor Marty Meehan, speaking before the crowd, said he's "proud of the fact we're a veterans military-friendly campus."
"Our colleges and universities across this country need to do a better job for those coming back from overseas," Meehan said. "If we can't do that, we're not fulfilling our mission."
One of those veterans, Marine Cpl. Nicholas Lanteri, spoke to the crowd about his experience returning from war with a Purple Heart and then joining the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment.
Lanteri, 25, a sophomore from Dracut who is pursuing a degree in criminal justice, was joined yesterday by his service dog Fenway. He introduced retired Col. Gregory Boyle, commander of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, and said Boyle's commitment to himself and other wounded Marines "was of the caliber the corps was established on."
Boyle, the event's keynote speaker, told the stories of four veterans who suffered debilitating injuries during wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet never gave up the will to serve.
"In our regiment we have a motto: 'Still in the fight,' " Boyle said.
Another speaker, Christian Elwood, said the freedoms of a nation depend on veterans like Lanteri. Elwood, a UMass Lowell senior and president of the school's Student Veteran Organization, said the organization's mission is to support and integrate veterans attending the school.
"Our freedoms depend on them and they should be able to depend on us," he said.
After Elwood and others -- including U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas -- spoke, the crowd was serenaded by the UMass Lowell Marching Band, which performed "America the Beautiful."
While leaving the ceremony, Al Kulas, who founded the squadron in 1962 when he was 18, said he is still amazed the unit stuck together.
"It was my baby and the original crew guys like Joe (Cartwright) are all back today," he said. "That makes me feel good."
Two of the four World War II veterans were in attendance yesterday. Maynard resident Robert Meister, who graduated from Lowell Technical Institute in 1948, was joined by Lawrence resident James Derby, who flew 24 missions during World War II.
UML spokeswoman Christine Gillette said inductee John Leitch was not able to attend. The fourth inductee, Stanley Werkowski, was inducted posthumously.