OSU honors Vietnam veteran with posthumous degree

Mike Seals - March 16, 2021 10:36 am

by: K. Querry-Thompson

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma university is honoring the sacrifice of a former student who gave his life to serve his country during the Vietnam War.

On Friday, Oklahoma State University and the Spears School of Business awarded veteran John Delbert “J.D.” Starrett III a posthumous degree more than 50 years after the business student was killed in Vietnam.

Starrett was an OSU student in the late 1960s.

He was one semester away from graduation when he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.

Only a few course credits shy of earning his diploma, he left for Vietnam on June 9, 1970 with hopes of returning and completing his accounting degree.

U.S. Army Sergeant Starrett was assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service for his heroism on Sept. 18, 1970, when he exposed himself to hostile fire when his unit engaged enemy forces. Starrett’s display of personal bravery and devotion to duty that day was an inspiration to the other members of his unit.

Less than a month later, on Oct. 4, 1970, the 23-year-old was killed in the line of duty.

In 2019, the OSU Board of Regents unanimously voted to award a posthumous bachelor’s degree to Starrett.

OSU President Burns Hargis presented Starrett’s degree in a ceremony that included a small number of family and friends at The McKnight Center.

“Oklahoma State University is honored to recognize J.D. Starrett for his academic success and his military service,” Hargis said. “We offer our deepest gratitude to his wife, sisters and brother for his ultimate sacrifice for our nation.”

David Starrett and his wife, Carol, traveled from their home in South Carolina to Stillwater for the ceremony.

“I was the younger brother, he was all things to me,” he said. “I remember being in the first grade, walking to the bus stop through knee-deep water for a 7-year-old and I fell down. All of sudden, I was picked up and it was J.D., following me to the bus stop. He was always there for me when I didn’t know he was.”

A donation by Starrett’s family in his name has been made to the Veterans Endowed Scholarship in the Spears School of Business. The fund is for scholarships for full- or part-time veteran students, and even deployed veterans.



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