9/11 Pentagon Survivor Earns MTSU Award

May 08, 2024 at 03:50 pm by WGNS

Murfreesboro, TN - U.S. Air Force veteran Bill Lickman not only survived the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., his actions led thousands of Pentagon staff members to safety, and he later received a Purple Heart for injuries he received that day.

Nearly 23 years later, the Murfreesboro resident graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in video and film production from the College of Media and Entertainment and received the Veteran Leadership Award recently during the spring Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony in the Miller Education Center’s second-floor atrium.


Stole ceremonies have become a tradition for the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. Fifty student veterans attended the Thursday, May 2, ceremony, where they received special red stoles — a symbol of their military service — to wear at commencement, held Friday and Saturday, May 3-4, in Murphy Center, and formally recognized by President Sidney A. McPhee.

“It’s appreciated,” Lickman, 45, said of the award given to a graduating student veteran who has demonstrated superior leadership, academic achievement and selfless service to MTSU and the Daniels Center community. “I’ve tried to make a point to not just be a student that goes to class and then goes home. I engage in community. I understand the importance of community and networking.”

Lickman has been totally immersed at MTSU: production manager and highlight camera operator for MTSU’s ESPN+ sports broadcasts, a photographer for Sidelines, the student newspaper, social media manager for MTSU’s student-run television production company and Student Government Association veteran senator.

Retiring after 23 years in the Air Force, Lickman said Sept. 11, 2001, was “an interesting day. It was memorable. I’ve had an interesting career — a lot of close calls and memorable moments.”

He was one of four USAF Joint Staff Military Security Forces members on duty during the attack. After helping people evacuate, he returned to the smoke-filled, burning building to protect critical facilities and senior Department of Defense leadership including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Lickman’s wife, Tracy, and their son, Drew, an MTSU computer science major and business entrepreneurship minor, attended the ceremony.

“What an incredible ceremony and great day,” said Keith M. Huber, MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, acknowledging the turnout for the special occasion. “Don’t change who you are. Be proud of your service. Rely on your skills. You know how to serve others.”

Huber and Daniels Center Director Hilary Miller accepted a framed artist rendering of a book cover and one copy of the Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution work titled “Patriots to Pioneers, the First Tennessee Volunteers” from Andrea Calfee, honorary regent with the Col. Hardy Murfree Chapter of the National Society of the DAR.

The Daniels Center, which serves 1,100 military-connected students and their families, receives support from Amazon, Chik-fil-A, Nissan, Operation Headshot, Premis Health, Operation Stand Down and others. Representatives for U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty and Congressman Scott Desjarlais attended the event.