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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Jan. 13, 2010

Decorated soldier Loeffke presenting Jan. 20 lecture

Retired Major General Bernard "Burn" Loeffke

MARYVILLE, Mo. - Retired Major General Bernard "Burn" Loeffke, a noted soldier, scholar, statesman and humanitarian, will present the spring Ploghoft Lecture at Northwest.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20, in the Mary Linn Auditorium of the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts.

"We're so fortunate to have Major General Burn Loeffke joining us for the Ploghoft Lecture," said Dr. Max Ruhl, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, which organizes the Ploghoft Lecture series. "This individual represents a lifetime of service to our country and to his fellowman, as exemplified in a distinguished career in the military, as well as in civilian roles. In the work of his foundation, Major General Loeffke has continued to support those in need around the world.  I can't think of a better role model than is he.

Born in Colombia, South America to an American father and a Spanish mother, Loeffke graduated in 1957 from the U.S. Military Academy and went on to serve 3 1/2 combat tours in Southeast Asia. He built a reputation as an effective and courageous leader, serving as a Special Forces officer, a paratroop adviser to Vietnamese units and an infantry battalion commander.

Loeffke earned four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. Amid an embassy ambush, Loeffke ran through hostile fire to rescue a soldier and returned by crawling with the soldier on his back.

When he retired from active military duty in 1992, Loeffke was serving as commanding general of U.S. Army South. Later, his fluency in multiple languages helped him in his post as military attaché in Moscow and as defense attaché in the People's Republic of China. He was the first American to make a parachute jump with the Chinese, he served in the U.S. Embassy in China, and he was a staff member of the White House National Security Council.

Since retiring, he has used the skills he learned in the military to provide medical aid to people in impoverished areas of the world through his foundation, Helping Others Today. Loeffke also has worked as a physician's assistant in medical missions, taught graduate courses at Georgetown University and authored several books.

Loeffke holds a bachelor's in engineering, a master's in Russian language and Soviet Area Studies and a doctorate in International Relations.

Loeffke's presence on campus also presents an opportunity for Northwest education faculty and administration to recognize students and staff in programs that have promoted humanitarian efforts.

Students in Northwest's relatively new Comprehensive Crisis Response minor, an interdisciplinary effort from several Northwest departments, under the supervision of Dr. April Haberyan and others, trained at the international humanitarian and disaster relief field exercise in Macedonia. Students also will participate in the Atlantic Hope Field Training Exercise in Fort Pierce, Fla., in March.

The Abriendo Horizontes program also brought eight Panamanian students to Northwest last January. Three of those students have returned as students of the Missouri Academy of Science, Math and Computing.

Among additional individuals recognized at a dinner before the lecture will be Dr. Barbara Crossland, who co-sponsored and accompanied two students doing internships in India with the Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity; Lt. Col. Marcus Majure, Army ROTC Commander for the Pony Express Battalion and Lt. Rick Frese with the Missouri National Guard, who leads Northwest's ROTC program.

For more information about the lecture, contact Nikki Yount at or 660.562.1778. For more information about Loeffke's foundation, Helping Others Today, log on to

The Ploghoft Lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. Milton and Zella Ploghoft of Athens, Ohio. Dr. Ploghoft, a 1949 Northwest alumnus, is professor emeritus at Ohio University, and Mrs. Ploghoft completed her elementary and secondary education at Horace Mann Laboratory School at Northwest. Dr. Ploghoft authored a number of textbooks in the social studies and lived abroad for many years, founding the College of Education in Kano, Nigeria, lecturing at Saigon University and leading the university's international programs in such disparate places as Chile, Cameroun, Botswana, the Yucatan, Swaziland and in what was then South Vietnam. The Ploghofts have supported a number of diversity related-efforts of the College of Education and Human Services.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468