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VMI Turnouts A VMI ALUMNI AGENCIES DIGITAL NEWSLETTER

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Gabriel ’12: More Than a School By Molly Rolon, Assistant Editor, Alumni Agencies

For Institute alumni, their alma mater evokes memories: Barracks, chow in Crozet, the smell of wet wool and – it almost goes without saying – the camaraderie built while enduring the rigors of VMI together. For Keith Gabriel ’12, VMI encompasses far more: It means family, community and life-long lessons learned during his four years in barracks. As with many things in life, the VMI difference comes from people – alumni, faculty and those who are neither but fall into a loosely-named but tightly knit category: The VMI family. The basketball scholarship that brought Gabriel to VMI did not simply fund his education but gave him a genuine connection with the local community. Gabriel’s scholarship was made possible by the generosity of the late Don Ford and his wife, Lois (now Lois Ford-Bouis),

Keith Gabriel ’12 with Stu Heishman ’86. When Gabriel’s character showed on and off the Keydet basketball court, Heishman took note. A few years after Gabriel’s graduation, Heishman was able to match him with a career at Duke Energy. Photo courtesy Gabriel.

who chose to go beyond paying for a cadet’s education by investing their time in Gabriel, building a real relationship with him. One conversation Gabriel remembers was when he asked Ford, “Why do you sponsor scholarships?” Ford replied, “God has blessed me with so much in my life. It is only right for me to use those blessings to bless others.” Gabriel took heed to that conversation, and is now sharing the blessings he’s received to influence youth in his hometown – Charlotte, North Carolina. Gabriel – whose high school tour of VMI was after the Rat Line ended – was not expecting the rigors of the Rat Line and seriously considered leaving the Institute after his 4th Class year. However, the relationship he built with the Fords made him realize he had a community and family at VMI. Gabriel said Lois’ personal investment in him kept him at VMI. “She kept me grounded. She helped me realize [VMI] was where I needed to be,” he remembered. “That’s how I ended up staying at VMI all four years.” When selecting a college, Gabriel leaned toward military colleges because he wanted not just an education but discipline. As an NCAA Division I athlete, he had a platform and – although it was not always obvious – people were paying attention. After a particularly good game versus Gardner-Webb University his 4th Class year, Gabriel did what he always does: Talked with kids and hung out with his family. Fast forward four years later, when Gabriel received an email on graduation day from Stu Heishman ’86. Heishman had seen Gabriel at that Gardner-Webb game and was impressed by not only his competitive spirit on the court, but with how he interacted with children and family off the court. Gabriel said, “He was genuinely just checking on me, seeing what my next steps were after college ... It was all because of that one game. This guy, who I didn’t know, was watching the way that I carried myself and thought I was worth investing in. I am convinced that none of this would have come to fruition if I had displayed my character in a negative light.” For three years following graduation, Gabriel followed his basketball dreams, living in several countries and playing in the European League. Life in other countries “was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever ex-


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perienced,” he said. “VMI equipped me to be able to handle those situations. I quickly learned that when adversity hit within my team, they looked at me for ways to get through it.” Every year when his season ended, he’d receive an email from Heishman, checking in to see how he was. After a couple of seasons living overseas and the deaths of his great-grandfather and grandfather, Gabriel began looking for different opportunities beyond basketball. He missed time with his family, and wanted to be involved with local youth. “I felt productive when I was on the court but when I was off the court, I was miserable. I felt empty … It was one of the toughest situations I’ve ever been in … at the age of 25, I had been chasing this basketball dream for 21 years. Now, I was looking to put it all behind me. It was devastating, but I knew I could make a better life for myself even when the ball had stopped bouncing,” said Gabriel. He kept in contact with Heishman, an executive at Duke Energy, who eventually gave Gabriel a heads up about a job with Duke Energy. Gabriel applied from Europe, and slightly more than three years after graduating from VMI, he was working for Duke Energy in Charlotte – a job he may never have found if not for the VMI family in the form of Heishman. “I lead a very aggressive economic development program for Duke Energy,” said Heishman. “I was looking to add a competitor with a ‘team’ mentality and an insatiable appetite to win. Keith’s experience as a cadet and athlete at VMI along with his professional credentials made him the perfect fit.” Gabriel is an economic development specialist and runs a site readiness program, which identifies, assesses and improves land for potential industrial development in Duke Energy’s territories. He became a drone pilot last year in order to create marketing videos to help companies visualize potential future sites. While at VMI, Gabriel was a mentor and an example to the

Lexington-area youth. He would attend little league games on Saturday mornings at Lylburn Downing Middle School and afterwards, the kids would follow him to Cameron Hall to watch Gabriel play for the Keydet team. He continues to influence area youth in Charlotte as an Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach and tells his players that their behavior on and off the court matters. “Even though these boys are 15-16 years old, they have a platform and people are watching them. The parents that are cheering and rooting for or against them in the stands – they are top decision makers at their jobs and could one day be the person who hires them,” he said. Remembering his own playing days, he said one of the things VMI taught him was that “I must be on parade 24/7. Every time I step out of barracks or step out of the house I live in, I must recognize and understand that people are watching. I am being evaluated on things that I do right [or] wrong, and the way that I carry myself in all aspects of life.” His life’s experiences have impressed upon Gabriel the value of VMI – not just VMI as a school, but “VMI as a community.” The level of support from VMI alumni and community is not something found at most colleges and universities, Gabriel noted, and that is something he tries to teach the youth he coaches and influences. He tells them, “You have to pick a college that’s going to help you achieve your purpose and achieve the goals that you have in life. College is only four years: What are you going to do after that?” Gabriel matriculated from Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from VMI. To get plugged into the VMI network, view recent resumes and have access to some of the country’s most talented job seekers, contact Brittney Matthews ’15, the Alumni Association’s program outreach officer, at 800/444-1839 extension 251, 540/784-8019 or bmatthews@vmiaa.org.

Founders Day 2018

Visit www.vmialumni.org/FoundersDay2018 to view photos of Founders Day and the video shown at the Institute Society Dinner.


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Ford ’14: Best in the Air Force By Molly Rolon, Assistant Editor, Alumni Agencies

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alyssa Ford ’14 and her crew partner, 1st Lt. Collin Crane, received the Gen. Thomas S. Power Award – presented annually to the Air Force’s best missile crew – at the Air Force Association Conference Sept. 17, 2018. Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alyssa Ford ’14 comprises one-half of the best missile combat crew in the Air Force. Ford and her crew partner, 1st Lt. Collin Crane, won the 2017 Air Force Global Strike Competition for best intercontinental ballistic missile weapon system score. They topped their success with another – winning the Gen. Thomas S. Power award for best missile crew in 2018. The Global Strike Competition – run by the Air Force’s Global Strike Command – has many categories, and Air Force personnel compete within their specialties. For Ford, it meant preparing by using Missile Procedure Trainers, which are mockups of the ICBM launch control centers that run simulation situations. To prepare for the competition Ford and Crane practiced at night, normally from about 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. A normal work schedule for a missile crew involves being on-call for alerts, and the schedule doesn’t include weekends off

on a regular basis. Ford said six to eight alerts per month are the norm. Each alert begins with a briefing to bring the missile crew up-to-date, and the crew reports to their squadron’s command post, picks up their transportation and any other items or personnel that may need to go to the missile site, and then drives out to the missile site. After being checked in by Air Force security forces who protect the missile sites, the crew descends 60-70 below the ground and spends about 24 hours on alert. The two person crew splits the shift, and Ford noted that the senior person normally takes the night shift. “I’m perpetually tired,” she laughed, adding that “VMI taught me to sleep anywhere.” After the alert ends, the crew has the rest of the day, plus the following day off. And then, the cycle begins again. While Ford and Crane were training for the competition, their squadron helped out, making sure “we only had to go to two alerts per month.” The training encompassed two areas: Weapons system knowledge and Emergency War Order knowledge. “Our instructors were throwing weird scenarios at us, making us critically think, and overcome and adapt,” Ford said. After waiting for all the other missile crews in the Air Force to finish their training and testing, Ford and Crane went to a convention at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. There, they learned – in a somewhat “nerve-wracking” public score posting – that they had won the missile category of the Global Strike Competition. After earning that honor, the two applied for the Power award, and found out in August 2018 that they had won the award and been selected as the best missile crew in the Air Force. Ford and Crane attended the annual Air Force Association conference in Washington, D.C., to receive their award. Numerous other awards for excellence

were also presented at the AFA conference, and Ford said she was able to see “the best people from [across] the Air Force.” “I love missiles,” Ford said, talking about her career field. This was not, however, always the case. As an Air Force ROTC cadet, the career field had negative connotations, and Ford was less than thrilled when she found out missiles was her assigned career field. After four years in the career field, Ford’s feelings about missiles have changed completely: “I didn’t pick missiles, but I’m glad missiles picked me.” Ford recently had an opportunity to choose another career field, but intentionally chose to stay with missiles. Addressing the negativity sometimes associated with the field, Ford said noted that some of the perception comes from the time spent underground. “Nobody wants to be underground eight times a month,” she continued. “It does wear you down sometimes. But you have to keep a positive attitude.” Once she is underground, Ford said, she often doesn’t realize she is underground. There are comfortable billets, movies, computer access and NFL Sunday Ticket to occupy the missile crews during their long shifts. Ford was back on post recently with her younger brother, Cadet Sheridan Ford ’22, who matriculated in August 2018. Until Sheridan matriculated, her family did not have a VMI tradition. She found out about VMI at a local information session while in high school. Ford was already interested in military schools, and a visit to VMI cemented that the Institute was the right choice for her. Her experience at VMI stands her in good stead four years later. “I still use anything and everything I can from VMI,” Ford said. “It’s something that sticks with you, especially in high stress environments. I’m not as crazy, or as stressed. It’s more like, ‘I’ve got this. I can work under pressure.”


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50th Anniversary of Integration Event Alumni from across the decades were invited back to post to enjoy a weekend of fellowship and recognition of the 50th anniversary of integration Sept. 28-29, 2018. More than 100 alumni and friends attended a cocktail hour in Moody Hall Sept. 28, during which a video of three of the first five African-American cadets – Dick Valentine, Harry Gore and Phillip Wilkerson – was shown (below). Also, in recognition of their leadership and role in the racial integration of the Institute, Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, superintendent, honored four alumni, Gen. Darren McDew ’82, first African-American regimental commander; Dr. John C. Gregory ’89, first African-American Honor Court president; Anthony Hamilton ’79, first African-American General Committee president; and Eugene Williams ’74, who was recognized for his 30-year life mission working with atrisk students to reach their college goals, during halftime at the Sept. 29 football game. These four alumni also joined Peay on the Parade Ground for pass and review during the morning’s parade. Thom Brashears ’95, Alumni Association chief operating officer, stated, “The weekend’s events connected many folks who had either not been able to see each other in several years or who hadn’t been back to VMI since graduation. It also helped many of them to see and better understand the strides VMI has made in recent years.” A number of attendees mentioned that they had been “on the fence” about whether to attend or not and they were thrilled they had made the decision to do so. One observed, “The friends you made at VMI remain a significant part of our life history.”


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Keydet Club Scholarship Banquet

More than 700 scholarship benefactors, cadets, parents and alumni gathered in Crozet Hall for the annual Keydet Club Scholarship Banquet Oct. 20, 2018. The night started off with Meade King ’85, Keydet Club chief operating officer, greeting the crowd, along with an invocation offered by Cadet Caroline Wojtas ’19. Kelly Sullivan ’01, guest speaker, moved the crowd with her inspiring speech about her struggles and triumphs while attending VMI. She was very thankful for the network and opportunities that VMI has created for her. The recipient of the Three-Legged Stool award was Cadet John O’Donnell ’19. He was joined up on stage by Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, superintendent; Brig. Gen. Bob Moreschi, deputy superintendent for academics and dean of the faculty; Col. William Wanovitch ’87, commandant; and Jerry Acuff ’71, Keydet Club first vice president. O’Donnell gave an impromptu speech which was very fitting for the night’s occasion, and closed his speech by leading an Old Yell. A term originally coined by the late Giles Miller ’924, one of the Institute’s most beloved sons and ardent athletic fans, the three-legged stool represents the fullness of VMI’s educational philosophy – that each cadet might thrive academically, athletically and militarily. Since its founding, VMI has endeavored to ensure that cadets receive the training and encouragement necessary to successfully balance each leg of this stool as they become educated and honorable difference-makers. The VMI Keydet Club is especially pleased to sponsor this award, recognizing the 1st Class cadet-athlete who has excelled throughout his or her cadetship. O’Donnell is a four-year starter on and team captain of the lacrosse team and led SoCon in 2018 for points scored by defensive midfielders. He holds a 4.0 GPA in economics and business, and is pursuing both a minor in mathematics and cyber security and a concentration in financial management. O’Donnell has been selected as a member of several honor societies, including Beta Gamma Sigma, Omicron Delta Epsilon and Omicron Delta Kappa. O’Donnell is pursuing a commission through Army ROTC and received the National Defense Award. He is the regimental S-1 captain, an Institute Honors cadet and participates in the cadet investment group and athletic advisory group.


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National Security Minor Pairs Research, Real-World Learning By Mary Price, VMI Communications & Marketing Now in its seventh year of existence, VMI’s national security minor allows a select number of cadets to take on more challenge than the Institute already offers – and almost all of them succeed, despite the requirements of coursework, a thesis and an internship. Cadet Jacob Van Dyke ’19 is no exception. A first-generation college student, he came to VMI because while he was fairly certain he wanted to commission into the military, he didn’t want to be locked in as he would at the service academies. Van Dyke came in as a physics major, but switched to international studies before classes began – and before he was even out of the Rat Line, he was studying Japanese on his own. He’d heard about VMI’s exchange program with Japan’s National Defense Academy, and since VMI doesn’t offer classes in Japanese, Van Dyke took the bull by the horns and began preparation on his own, despite the fact that he’d never studied an Asian language before. The next fall, Van Dyke left the United States for the very first time – and studied abroad at the Japanese National Defense

Academy, where all classes are taught in Japanese. As the weeks went by, fear was replaced by confidence as his language skills blossomed and strangers became friends. “Just all in all, it was a growing experience,” commented Van Dyke, who plans to commission into the Army. “That semester was amazing.” From the moment he arrived back on U.S. soil, Van Dyke had one ambition: To get back to Japan and keep working on his language skills. This summer, he did just that, studying in Tokyo under the auspices of IES Abroad, a company providing study abroad opportunities to college students. The experience not only gave him the language credits he needed to graduate but also fulfilled his internship requirement for the national security minor. While in Japan, Van Dyke also undertook a research project under the auspices of the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute. For that project, he interviewed Japanese military personnel about U.S.-Japan relations. He’ll take the information he gleaned from those interviews and use that as the basis for his thesis on the national security culture of Japan. Van Dyke’s trip to Asia even helped to strengthen the ties between VMI and the Japanese National Defense Academy, as he met up with Col. Howard Sanborn, professor of international studies, and introduced Sanborn to leaders at the Japanese academy. “We’ve had a really nice relationship with [the Japanese military academy],” said Sanborn, who was making his first trip to the academy. “We want to keep that relationship strong and even build on it ... The driving thing for me is to get cadets to Asia.” Van Dyke’s experience with the national security minor is far from unique, said Lt. Col. Spencer BaCadet Jacob Van Dyke ’19 confers with Lt. Col. Spencer Bakich about his thesis for the national security minor. VMI kich, associate professor of photo by Mary Price.


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international studies and director of the national security minor program. “This is the stuff that makes for organizational leaders down the line,” said Bakich. “For the type of cadet that’s able to get in, the national security minor is a critical component in their intellectual development. I’ve heard from a number of cadets that their projects were incredibly meaningful to them. They did things they weren’t expecting to do.” Since its inception, admittance to the minor has been via a competitive selection process and enrollment has been capped at 20 cadets – 10 from the 1st Class and 10 from the 2nd Class. Keeping the minor small is necessary for two reasons, Bakich explained. One, supervising cadet theses takes a lot of faculty time, and two, funds are needed to support cadet internships. Not all of the internships are paid, so there’s an effort made to level the playing field by making sure no cadet is denied an internship due to financial concerns. The national security minor has been quietly underwritten financially by Louis Blair, who recently retired after many years of serving as the Mary Moody Northen visiting professor in the social sciences. “It’s a pretty special thing he’s done,” said Bakich. “He’s an inspiration.” Bakich isn’t the only one appreciative of Blair’s altruistic spirit. “The minor would not exist without [Blair’s] generosity and commitment,” said Col. Dennis Foster, head of the Department of International Studies and Political Science. “It’s a phenomenal program,” said Bakich of the national security minor program. “If there’s one thing I’d love to be able to do, it would be to generate more money for it, because I would love to be able to expand these opportunities for the cadets. I’d love to give cadets more opportunities to do more of these types of things.” This summer, not only did Van Dyke study abroad in Japan, but another cadet pursuing the national security minor, Kristian Perez ’19, attended the Peace and Security in the South Caucasus program in the Republic of Georgia. Yet another cadet interned in the office of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and still another was an intern at Lockheed Martin. Those cadets, Bakich noted, found these opportunities on their own. “As in life, very little is given to you,” he remarked. “We work with [the cadets], but they drive the train.”to by Mary Price. Editor’s Note: This article was first published by VMI Communications & Marketing.

Keydets Take Down Tusculum The VMI football team picked up its first win of the season as the Keydets took down visiting Tusculum College by a 20-11 score Nov. 3 at Foster Stadium. With the win came additional broken records for the program as Cadet Reece Udinski ’21, quarterback, threw 17 pass completions to make his season total 271, surpassing the previous mark of 269 set by Al Cobb ’17 in 2014. The Keydets went away from their traditional air attack by rushing the ball 45 times, including 23 carries from Cadet Alex Ramsey ’20 for 134 yards, as both were new career highs for the redshirt sophomore. Defensively, Cadet Brett Howell ’22, freshman linebacker, set a new season and career high with 16 tackles for the day, including one tackle for loss. After both teams went scoreless in the opening quarter, the Keydets struck first with 5:33 to play before the half as Udinski took it into the endzone on his own on a one-yard rush. The Pioneers trimmed the VMI lead to 7-3 with a 48-yard field goal by Joe Defatta just four seconds before halftime. The Keydets extended the lead to 14-3 late in the third quarter when Udinski connected with Cadet Devone Humphrey ’21 for an 11-yard touchdown reception. On the ensuing Tusculum drive, the Keydet defense stepped up as Cadet Chuck Weatherman ’21, defensive lineman, sacked Tommy Pistone and forced a fumble recovered by Tyren Cloyd at the Tusculum 39-yard line to give the Keydets a short field. The VMI offense responded by going down and scoring a touchdown by Cadet Quan Myers ’19 on a two-yard scamper to put the Keydets up, 20-3. Tusculum earned a safety and touchdown midway through the final quarter, but the rally was insufficient as VMI held on for the win. Scott Wachenheim, head football coach, said, “We practice hard each and every week, and it is nice to result in a reward this team deserves. I don’t know another team in the country that would stay committed to each other for as long as these guys have with no reward at the end on the scoreboard, and keep fighting. “Our defense was outstanding today. We have a very young group and, on top of that, have had key injuries this season. Our defense has guys stepping up and making plays. “One of the game’s biggest plays was Colin Loftis [’21] coming off the edge to block a field goal. That kept it a two-score game – if it was a one-score lead, it could have been a completely different game.”


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Powell ’83 Publishes Eighth Civil War Book By Scott Belliveau ’83, VMI Alumni Agencies Ask many authors where their interest in a particular subject was kindled and they are likely to mention a library. For award-winning author David A. Powell ’83, who has published eight works on Civil War history, including his latest a book on the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign, “Union Command Failure in the Shenandoah Valley,” it began in a library – specifically, his father’s, which included many works of history and military history. His father also took Powell to visit historical sites from an early age. “I began reading military history in high school, and never stopped. Among the first books I read were on Gettysburg, Waterloo and the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, and I have never lost interest in those three subjects, even as my interests expanded to a much broader range.” That interest in history attracted Powell to VMI, which he discovered after he applied to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was named as an alternate by his congressman. Both VMI and The Citadel sent him information, but VMI’s strong ROTC program and its historical ties won the day. As a cadet, Powell majored in history and encountered two professors in the department of history who had a significant impact on him. “Jeffrey Gunsberg taught a course called ‘The History of Warfare.’ His classes were challenging and provocative, and he also organized an annual Vietnam symposium that I still recall with great fondness.” The second was the renowned Civil War scholar and beloved professor, John G. Barrett. “I took Colonel Barrett’s classes and read his books, all of which stimulated my own interest in the subject.” Although Powell remains interested in many subjects, he focuses his research and writing on Civil War history. It is relatively easy for him to access primary sources. “I can travel to archives and repositories in the United States and collect the letters, diaries and reminiscences that are the lifeblood of good historical narrative. That’s something that I cannot do for, say, Napoleonic history. While increasingly archives are making more of these sources available online, the vast majority of documents remain accessible only to the dedicated researcher who takes the time to sit in a reading room and physically sift through them.” Powell’s focus is on the war’s western theater and the battles associated with it. Indeed, of his eight books, seven focus on the Chickamauga campaign. “The Battle of Chickamauga was the second largest engagement of the Civil War, behind only Gettysburg in ferocity and casualties. And yet, when I started my research more than 15 years ago, only two modern volumes

– one in the 1960s and a second in the 1990s – had ever addressed it. Gettysburg, by contrast, has dozens of volumes devoted to it.” It was when Powell began his research into the battle that he discovered a possible reason for the lack of books on the topic: the battle’s sheer complexity. “I certainly discovered how complex it really was once I began serious research.” To some, that complexity might have them to pause and search for a new topic. Powell took it up as a challenge and invested about eight years in research about Chickamauga, as he describes it, “reading, digesting, walking the ground, and then revisiting the written sources to see how they fit together.” That investment has realized a considerable return: three articles and three essays as well as the aforementioned seven books which include a three-volume narrative trilogy. His first book, “The Maps of Chickamauga” appeared in 2009, and the final two books came out last year, including “Decisions at Chickamauga,” an examination of the command decisions made during the battle, published by the University of Tennessee Press. Three of his works have been recognized for their excellence. His study of the Confederate cavalry during the campaign, “Failure in the Saddle,” and the second volume of his trilogy, “The Chickamauga Campaign: Glory or the Grave,” received the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable’s Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award in 2011 and 2016, respectively. In 2017, the Austin, Texas, Civil War Roundtable presented its Daniel M. & Marilyn W. Laney Prize to him for his trilogy’s final volume, “The Chickamauga Campaign: Barren Victory.” Powell’s latest work focuses on what happened to the Union forces during the Battle of New Market. The main character in any tale of the Union forces at New Market must be the Union commander, Franz Sigel. Sigel has had a reputation as an incompetent “political general,” who was given high rank in order to solidify German-American political support of the Union war effort. Powell’s research revealed a much more complex situation and a more sympathetic portrait of Sigel. “I was surprised by the degree to which he was tripped up by incompetent subordinates and by how popular he was with many of his troops. While ethnic Germans serving under him certainly approved of him, many of the other men he commanded thought he did a good job at New Market. Several of them penned letters to the effect that Sigel sprung a Rebel trap and ‘saved the army’ from a worse disaster.” As a longtime reader of Civil War history and now a practitioner for almost two decades, Powell


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often thinks of the direction of the field. For decades, academics have favored an approach known as the “New Military History,” a term which Powell calls misleading, seeing as it has its roots in the 1960s. In general, he explained, idea is to integrate cultural and social history into the field and so develop a deeper understanding of military affairs. The trouble with this approach, Powell asserts, is that too often campaigns and battles are left behind. As he sees it, “Integrating the ‘new’ history with more traditional campaign narratives to tell the whole story is going to be increasingly important because popular historians have largely taken up history at the tactical and operational levels and the results have been mixed in terms of quality.” This problem is compounded, according to Powell, by the fact both academic and popular authors have fewer opportunities to publish. Commercial publishers are looking for a sure-fire “hit,” and the university presses which used to dominate Civil War literature now play a shrinking role in that market. Self-publishing is easier than ever, but Powell sees problems in that, too. “Few authors are disciplined enough to be both writer and editor; the result is an often-disappointing work.” Yet, Powell has reason for optimism. There are, he says, many talented historians who are researching and writing. “There is always intriguing new work. The most interesting subject I have heard of recently is a forthcoming title from a talented academic historian, addressing weather in the Civil War. While that might sound peculiar at first blush, think of how often weather impacted operations in the Civil War. Rain or drought dictated river levels, for example, which in turn effected navigation; and where would Union armies in the Western Theater be without steamboats?” Asked what advice he had for alumni who might consider fol-

lowing his example and embracing the craft of history, Powell replied, “Hone your writing skills. The best research in the world is meaningless if you can’t tell the story as it needs to be told. I have shelves full of well-researched but awkwardly written books. Write all the time, and then rewrite constantly, even if you don’t yet have a publishing commitment. Just start writing. Your skills with improve with practice.” As to choosing topics, Powell admitted that doing so is “a challenge,” but continued “there always is room for new insight, especially in my own area, the western campaign. Or perhaps something even more offbeat, like the subject of weather, mentioned above.” As for his future work, he seems to have found a topic. “I chose to write on Chickamauga because there was a real need to fill a void in the literature. A similar void exists for the Atlanta Campaign, though not to the same degree. While there have been works on aspects of the Atlanta Campaign, there is only one modern overview of the whole campaign, and it is now 30 years old. So, there is room for a new approach to Atlanta.” But, for Powell, there is more to his work than telling an interesting story. “The military uses history to teach timeless lessons about command and leadership, an approach that often differs from academic or popular history. Since the early 1980s, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College has used Chickamauga as the basis for its ‘staff ride’ program. As a result, much of the existing secondary literature on Chickamauga was produced with the professional military in mind. I have attempted to follow this lead in all my writing: I want my work to be useful not only to academics and individual students, but also to the military.”

VMI Ranked Highly by Major Media Outlets By Mary Price, VMI Communications & Marketing Virginia Military Institute again placed highly in national rankings of thousands of accredited colleges and universities released recently by major publications. For the fourth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report ranked VMI fourth among public national liberal arts colleges, behind the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. VMI’s engineering program also held on to its previous ranking of 26th in the category for schools granting only a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The only other Virginia school in the top 100 for engineering was James Madison University, tied for 30th. The rankings in the engineering category are based exclusively on the reputation of the program. Overall, U.S. News ranked VMI 81st out of 239 national liberal arts colleges from across the country. The only Virginia schools ranked higher were Washington & Lee University, 11th and the University of Richmond, 25th. The U.S. News rankings are based on such factors as a college’s

reputation as rated by academic leaders nationally, the retention of students, class size, quality of the faculty, quality of students, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving rate. In other recent rankings, VMI was also ranked in the top 20 percent nationally by the Wall Street Journal’s U.S. college rankings, coming in at 168th out of 968 colleges and universities. The Institute was ranked in the top 13 percent in the South. In late August, Washington Monthly released its yearly college rankings, showing VMI ranked 39th out of 228 national liberal arts colleges. The only school in Virginia ranked higher was Washington & Lee University, 2nd. Additionally, the Institute is ranked 31st in the best bang for the buck, southeast, category. Other Virginia schools in that category were W&L, 1st; Mary Baldwin University, 20th; James Madison University, 23rd; Bluefield College, 27th; and the University of Richmond, 28th. Editor’s Note: This article was first published by VMI Communications & Marketing.


VMI Turnouts A VMI ALUMNI AGENCIES DIGITAL NEWSLETTER

November 2018

From the Field to the Finish Line: Army Ten-Miler Team By Molly Rolon, VMI Alumni Agencies VMI’s two Army ROTC cadet teams placed 14th and 32nd of 96 teams at the 2018 Army Ten-Miler race in Washington, D.C., Oct. 7, 2018. Sixteen cadets, split into two teams of eight, represented VMI at the nation’s second-largest 10-mile race. The Army Ten-Miler, which is held annually in October, is sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “The team did really well in their preparation and in the race,” said Sean Cook, team coach and VMI Army ROTC contractor, who noted that conditions were not ideal for running: High humidity with temperatures above 70 degrees. The cadet runners were well-trained for the race but also used good strategy in maneuvering through the packed race route – while holding a six-or-seven-minute per mile pace, Cook said. The race attracts thousands of runners – 24,000 in 2018. Beginning and ending at the Pentagon, runners pass by Arlington National Cemetery, the National Mall and many of the capitol’s monuments. Many of the runners and spectators are serving or have served in the Army, turning the D.C. area into

While in Washington, D.C., to compete in the annual Army Ten-Miler race, VMI’s cadet team were able to meet and speak with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley (center, blue polo shirt) and Ryan D. McCarthy ’96, who is currently serving as the Under Secretary of the Army. The 2018 VMI Army Ten-Miler team consisted of: Cadets Adam Josephson ’19, Anna McFarland ’20, Nathan Mumford ’19, Zane Bourgey ’21, Colin Godbold ’20, Dylan Stoltzfus ’21, Allen Grant ’21, Jay Kennedy ’21, Hannah Gillan ’19, Jordan Farmer ’19, Cadet Collin Rice ’19, Emmanuel Ocampo ’19, Anah Bozentka ’20, Josh Miller ’19, Calvin Lawson ’19 and Stephen Hillman ’19. Photo courtesy VMI Army ROTC.

an informal reunion of former battle buddies. While at the race, the cadets were able to meet Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley and Ryan D. McCarthy ’96, who is currently serving as the Under Secretary of the Army. Cook, a retired U.S. Army officer, and McCarthy served together as platoon leaders early in their Army careers. This year, VMI’s fall FTX and the Army Ten-Miler race were held on the same weekend. Before the race, VMI’s runners – like all Army ROTC cadets – participated in FTX. Their participation involved camping in the open and consuming prepackaged Meals Ready to Eat – none of which are normally considered ideal pre-race preparation. “They were in the field training Friday,” said Cook, noting that the team was pulled out of the field less than 24 hours before the race. The cadets showed great stamina, he said. In preparation for the race, Cook – an ultramarathoner himself – held a selection process last spring. He gave selected cadets a “recommended training plan” for the spring and summer months. The plan included three days of running per week and stressed five-plus mile runs at a sub-eight minute mile pace, Cook said. He also recommended cadets join one of VMI’s club sports that emphasized running: Army ROTC Ranger Challenge club, or the running club. In the fall, Cook checked in with cadets to ensure they were still interested in running the Army Ten-Miler. Last year was the first time Cadet Emmanuel Ocampo ’19 participated with VMI’s Army Ten-Miler team, and the 2017 Army Ten-Miler was the first race Ocampo had ever run. Ocampo, a contracted Army ROTC cadet who will commission this spring, said he concentrated on long runs during the summer. He was not, however, able to train during the entire summer: He spent the last month of his summer vacation at cadet summer training in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Once he returned to VMI, Ocampo utilized other running opportunities at VMI – including the running club and triathlon club – to prepare for the race. This year’s team did not include any rats, Cook said, but he hopes to open the team up to rats in future years. Other plans include fielding three teams of eight, including a team comprised solely of female runners. Cook, a 1995 graduate of The Citadel, also helps coach the VMI running club and Ranger Challenge – known as Army ROTC’s varsity sport.


VMI Turnouts A VMI ALUMNI AGENCIES DIGITAL NEWSLETTER

November 2018

Cross-Country: Men Place Fifth, Women Eighth at SoCon Championship

The Keydet women took eighth place with 190 points to conclude the 2018 season at the SoCon Championship in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Photo courtesy Southern Conference.

Looking to finish the season strong, the VMI cross-country men placed fifth with 169 points and the women took eighth with 190 points to conclude the 2018 campaign in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The men’s team was led by Cadet Davone Hernandez ’21, who placed 11th in the field with an 8k time of 25:55.12 to receive Second Team All-SoCon honors. VMI’s second finisher, Cadet Gavin Jenkins ’22, came in 32nd overall in 27:11.23 to earn SoCon All-Freshman team recognition. Cadet Justin Adams ’20 and Andre Jordan ’22 arrived soon after Jenkins. Cadet Kellen Reeves ’21 also scored team points for the men. “For the eight men who finished the race today, none of these eight athletes had raced at SoCons last year,” said Dr. Drew Ludtke, coach. “We were very inexperienced coming into this race. Even with the inexperience, I felt we had a good meet. We did not run any seniors and only one junior, making us one of the younger teams at the meet. There is potential to have some great teams in the coming years.”

The VMI women placed eighth in the conference race with 190 points. As it was all season, Cadets Anna Armfield ’21 and Logan Luckett ’20 led the pack for VMI as the women garnered 190 points in the race. Cadets Sara Belamarich ’22, Kathleen Yates ’20 and Emily Hattman ’22 also scored team points for the Keydets. “Our women had a great meet, scoring 24 less points than last year. Luckett and Armfield continue to lead the ladies’ team. I was happy with each individual athlete. Similar to the men, the ladies have no seniors and have a very bright future,” said Ludtke. “We were able to move up one team place from last year. I was happy with the effort and dedication of the ladies. They are engaged, set goals and created a positive team environment at the meet.” For the sixth consecutive season, both the Furman men’s and women’s teams placed first overall in the competition. Editor’s Note: This article was first published on vmikeydets.com.


VMI Turnouts A VMI ALUMNI AGENCIES DIGITAL NEWSLETTER

November 2018

Rat Triathlete Turns in Strong Performance Down Under By Mary Price, VMI Communications & Marketing For most rats, just getting through the Rat Line is hard enough. But Cadet Matthew Stann ’22 had an additional challenge when he matriculated to VMI in August – preparing for the International Triathlon Union world championships, held Sept. 12-16 in Australia. A triathlete since the age of 10, Stann had found his way into the sport, which involves running, biking and swimming, through his father, John Stann ’95, who’s also an avid triathlon competitor. For the Stanns, who currently make their home in Reston, Virginia, triathlon is a family sport, with four of the family’s eight children having or having had some triathlon experience. Cadet Stann qualified for the world championships thanks to a strong performance at the national level in 2017. Coming to VMI, though, he wasn’t sure that the Rat Line would allow him the time and flexibility for the type of ultra-intense physical conditioning needed to stay at the top of his game for triathlon. He found, though, that just the opposite was true – the Rat Line was a source of physical and mental discipline that kept him honed for the approaching competition. “In many ways, life at VMI is an intensified version of a triathlete’s routine, and it only took one month of the Rat Line to make me faster at the world championships,” Stann noted. Stann also had help from Capt. Corey Bachman, assistant commandant for support and his company’s tactical officer. Recognizing that Stann needed more time to prepare for the upcoming competition, Bachman helped him get a permit allowing him to miss required evening rat activities the week before the competition. Stann used those freed-up hours to train with the VMI triathlon team. “The time spent training with them helped me recover and recondition for the race,” said Stann. “If that had not happened, there’s no way I would have been able to do as well as I could have.” That extra training time paid off. When the competition was over, Stann had set a new personal record of 2:13:22, shaving 11 minutes off his previous best time. “The race itself [was] ... definitely the most competitive race I’ve ever been in,” Stann commented. “You’re taking the best in the world and throwing them into one place.” While he was giving it his all physically, Stann was still trying to keep up with his studies as well. He did some academic work each night in Australia so he wouldn’t be as behind when he returned to VMI. “I definitely struggled a little bit in terms of academics over that time,” he said. “My grades kind of dipped a little bit just because I had twice as much work to pull ahead and when I got back I had twice as much work to get caught back up.”

Cadet Matthew Stann ’22 running in the International Triathlon Union world championships in Australia in September 2018. Photo courtesy Stann.

Now, though, Stann’s grades have rebounded. “[Professors] were very understanding,” Stann commented. “As of now I’m not doing too shabby.” He’s also cherishing memories of the people he met in Australia, which was the site of his first international competition. He and his father, who also competed in his own age group, chatted with fellow triathletes from England, New Zealand, Australia and even Germany, as John Stann speaks German fluently. “Some of the most obscure countries were there – some that I’d never heard of,” Stann said. “It’s as if you can go to one part of the world and experience it all at the same time, because everybody’s there.” Stann hopes to continue competing internationally at the upcoming world championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Turnouts November 2018  

November 2018 Turnouts VMIAA Digital Newsletter

Turnouts November 2018  

November 2018 Turnouts VMIAA Digital Newsletter