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NMSU AFROTC honors former cadet, commander in dedication ceremony

The Air Force ROTC Detachment 505 at New Mexico State University will dedicate a display case to distinguished alumnus Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez and the first-ever AFROTC commander at NMSU Lt. Col. David W. Wallace at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 5.

The dedication ceremony will take place in Young Hall on the NMSU campus. The display case, built by a team of cadets, will serve as an on-display time capsule for the squadron, which was named after Wallace.

"The Air Force invests a lot of time, energy and resources into capturing our service's history," Lt. Col. Steve Groll, current AFROTC commander said. "The Heritage Hall Display Case marks an opportunity for Detachment 505 to celebrate its rich history."

Wallace served as the AFROTC commander at New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts from 1946-1948. He was working out of Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso when he was selected to head up the squadron for the fall semester of 1946.

Wallace, a P-51 fighter pilot, flew more than 80 combat sorties during World War II. He flew missions in India, Burma and China as part of the resupply efforts over the Himalayan Mountains. Wallace died in 1948, but his family will attend the event.

Marquez, from the class of 1954, stands as the detachment's most distinguished alumnus. Also a pilot, Marquez made his greatest contribution to the U.S. Air Force in the aircraft maintenance and logistics field. He revolutionized the Air Force's approach to aircraft maintenance, resulting in several military decorations as well having an award named after him.

The Lieutenant General Leo Marquez Award is presented to the highest performers in the categories of aircraft, munitions/missile and communications-electronics maintenance.

"The career of Lt. Gen. Marquez, a New Mexico native, serves as a beacon to our cadets that all the great things in their lives are still ahead of them," Groll said.

The ceremony will be a dedication of the display case that will be housed on the first floor of Young Hall in the cadet lounge. This is the first year honors will be given to recognize former AFROTC members.

Items in the case will be rotated out periodically to honor former alumni from the program, but Groll said the Wallace and Marquez families will have a permanent spot in the display.

"It will help link cadets back to their lineage while at the same time helping them realize that a commission in the U.S. Air Force opens the door to unlimited potential," Groll said.

For more information on the event contact the NMSU AFROTC office at (575) 646-2136.