Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

April 9, 2014

TU announces commencement speaker

THOMASVILLE — Thomas University will hold its annual Commencement ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 3, in the Ben Grace Historic Quadrangle on its Main Campus. More than 290 students will receive associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Retired Maj. Gen. Bernard “Burn” Loeffke will serve as the speaker.

 A graduate of West Point, Loeffke holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering, a Master of Arts Degree in Russian, and a Doctorate in Political Sciences. He has also taught in the graduate school at Georgetown University. General Loeffke has commanded Special Forces and parachute combat infantry units. He culminated his military career as a Commanding General of Army South. In his military service, Loeffke accumulated more than 250 parachute jumps, two of those while in combat in Vietnam. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds in combat as well as the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for Valor. He is a pilot and an Army Ranger.

 Loeffke is also the first American to have jumped with Communist Chinese Units. He earned this distinction when he became the first U.S. Army General to be assigned to the American Embassy after the Communist takeover. Loeffke also served as the Army Attaché in Moscow as a staff officer in the White House, and as the director of the Commission on White House Fellows. An important ingredient in Loeffke’s life is physical fitness. In the past, he served as an advisor to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. As a young captain, he was a U.S. Army swimming champion. As a colonel, he competed in a military decathlon in Russia. As a general, he ran several full-length marathons in China. Today, as a senior, his workouts include 300 sit-ups, 100 push-ups and at least 40 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.

 Loeffke retired from the Army in 1992 and immediately began his medical career. He finished his studies as a physician’s assistant in 1997 and had his first taste of missionary medicine in a combat zone in Africa. Loeffke now participates in medical missions in war-torn and impoverished areas such as Bosnia, Haiti, Kenya, Iraq, Niger, Darfurand the Amazon jungles.


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