COMMERCE, Texas — Navy Rear Admiral James Lair will be the keynote speaker at the 17th Annual Veterans Vigil, which opens Thursday, Nov. 6, at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
The program honoring men and women who have served or are serving in the military will be at 11:30 a.m. in the Founder’s Lounge of the Sam Rayburn Memorial Student Center. The public is invited.
Lair enlisted in the Marine Corps reserve in 1957 and then entered the Navy, earning his Wings and Commission in 1961. He flew 200 combat missions over Vietnam.
Lair was promoted to rear admiral following his tour as chief of staff for Commander U.S. 6th Fleet.
He also served as director of Operations, Headquarters, U.S. European Command, Stuttgart, Germany. He was responsible for the Air Land and Air Drop Resupply missions in Bosnia and the enforcement of the No Fly Zone over Northern Iraq.
Following his retirement in 1995, Lair worked for Lockheed Martin, DFW International Airport, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Lair has over 8,000 flight hours and 1,400 carrier landings. His personal awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Award, four Legions of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Award, two Individual Air Medals, 22 Strike Flight Air Medals, and four Navy Commendation medals.
Admiral Lair lives with his wife, Jackie, in Southlake. They have two daughters and five grandchildren.
At 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Major Mike Spaight will present the colors. During the ceremony, both Betty Bryant of Commerce, daughter of a POW, and Lair will speak.
At 12:20 p.m., a procession will begin to the site of the Vigil Flame, where the flame in honor of missing in action and prisoners of war will be lit and guarded.
Events continue until Saturday, Nov. 8, when the flame will be extinguished in a pre-game ceremony at 1:40 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
Following the ceremony, A&M-Commerce will kick off against Southwestern Oklahoma.