Carnegie Mellon is proud to have so many outstanding alumni, who are known both for their accomplishments and for their service. The late Colonel Eugene B. Datres, Signal Corps, United States Army, was a shining example of a CMU alumnus, and his daughter, Anne Hedlund, recently sought to honor a current College of Engineering student in Colonel Datres’ honor.

On April 12, during the Carnegie Mellon University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) awards ceremony, Midshipman First Class Lawrence Wu was awarded Colonel Datres’ blazer buttons carrying the Carnegie Institute of Technology logo. Midshipman Wu just graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering and is a prospective Submarine Officer. The buttons Midshipman Wu received were a gift for Colonel Datres from his wife, but unfortunately, the colonel passed away before his blazer could be finished.

“It was a surprise and, of course, a great honor,” said Wu of receiving the buttons. “It was especially impactful due to the uniqueness of these buttons and that the family entrusted me with the care of something irreplaceable and sentimental. I also found it apropos that the buttons originated from Charleston, SC where Navy Nuclear Power School, my duty station, is located.”

Datres graduated from the College of Engineering (then the Carnegie Institute of Technology) with a degree in electrical engineering in 1940. Like Wu, Datres had been a member of the ROTC, and he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon his graduation, just before Pearl Harbor. Three days after marrying his high school sweetheart, Datres left to fight in World War II. 

After the war, Datres continued serving his country by teaching ROTC, working on the Redstone and other rockets, and running the microwave radio relay systems in Saigon during the Tet Offensive, among other assignments. Datres retired after 30 years of service and was honored by receiving the Legion of Merit medal. He never forgot his alma mater and, according to his daughter, proudly wore his class ring.

Please wear these blazer buttons with pride, knowing their history in our family.

Anne D. Hedlund, Colonel Eugene B. Datres’ daughter
Hedlund wrote a letter to Wu that detailed Datres’ life and history of service to accompany the awarding of the buttons, asking Wu to “please wear these blazer buttons with pride, knowing their history in our family.” She ended her letter saying, “Live a good life and be a credit to your fine school and career choices.”