My name is Krystle Wolfe. I entered the United States Marine Corps straight out of high school and worked as a KC-130 Airframes Mechanic for 10 years. I was medically separated in 2013 and became a stay-at-home mom for a year to help my family transition from having both parents in the Corps to just one of us. I started going back to school at Craven Community College in 2014 and transferred to Oregon State University in the fall of 2016. Shortly thereafter I started working in the Military and Veterans Resource Center (MVRC). I finished an Associate’s Degree in Engineering from Craven Community College in 2017 and will be graduating from OSU in the fall of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering and a Minor in Sustainability.

The Gold Star Project was created from an idea that our Military and Veteran Resource Advisor, William Elfering, had. He wanted to track down all of the Gold Star Members of OSU, both students and faculty, who had died in the line of service to our country. The original idea was to create a list of all of their names, ranks, and when they were killed. This proved to be harder than we thought as the one list available with this information only covered the names of those lost in WWI.

Between William and I, we went through the OSU online archives looking for any reference to someone who was either listed as Killed in Action (KIA), Missing in Action (MIA), Prisoner of War (POW), or anything else that would lead us to an identity. What we found were 474 possible Gold Star Members ranging from the Spanish-American War to the Global War on Terror. The list spans from when OSU was originally called Corvallis College, through its transition to Oregon Agricultural College, then Oregon State College, and finally to its current title of Oregon State University. What started off as a list of names turned into so much more.

In researching each person, I found out more about them, who they were, who their parents and siblings were, if they had a spouse or children. For most I found a unit, a rank, a last mission, and how they died. For some I am still looking. As the list of confirmed names grew and I learned more about each individual, the project became more personal. These weren’t the people you research in a family tree, where people die of disease, accidents or old age. Most were just kids, around the ages of our students today. Some had a quick death, a large portion did not. Their stories became real, their faces familiar, and their actions known. This project became more than just a list of names, ranks and dates of death; bringing each individual story back to life for a brief moment so that we may get a glimpse as to who each individual was, and not just their final moment. We have included a picture if we could find one, their story as we’ve found it, how they died; and for some, the valor that went with them. These are the students and faculty from OSU who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. 

What was supposed to be a project estimated to take a couple of months at most, has taken us nearly a year to get to this point, and there is still more work to do. Of the 474 names we found, 364 have been confirmed to have died in the line of duty. There are still 47 names from our original list who need to be found. Our freedoms have been paid for by those on this list and others like them. This is our past, what defines our present, and guides our future.

I’d like to thank, William Elfering for helping me gather names, and Anthony Minniti for building the web page, this would have taken a lot longer without their help.