VMI Cyber Corps

Alumni and Friends of VMI:

Cyber Corps Numbers: 529

A Happy New Year to all. I trust that everyone had a great holiday season. A new year looms ahead of us and the Institute.

From the Alumni Site: A Death in the VMI Family - I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Mrs. Knapp, but she sounds like a special lady. I know all our thoughts and prayers are with the Knapp family.

To all members of our VMI Family:
It is my sad duty to announce the death of Mrs. Peggy D. Knapp, wife of MG John W. Knapp '54.

Peggy died peacefully in her sleep at home in the early hours of Saturday, 2 January 1999.

The Superintendent has ordered the flags at VMI flown at half-staff in honor of the Institute's gracious former First Lady until interment.

For those within striking distance of Lexington, interment will be at 1300 Tuesday 5 January 1999, in the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington. A Memorial Service will FOLLOW at the Robert E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington at 1330, with a short reception to follow in the Parish Hall.

Friends wishing to make an acknowledgement to the family are asked to consider a gift to The Peggy Knapp Scholarship Fund of the VMI Foundation, Incorporated, in lieu of flowers.

Obituaries appeared in the Roanoke and Richmond papers today, Sunday, 3 January.

Peggy was a grand lady of the Institute, whose example of true Southern charm and gentility graced The Hill for over 40 years. She and John knew each other literally since the first grade and were high school sweethearts at TJ, in Richmond. Peggy was John's Ring Figure date.

One could wax eloquent ... and long ... about her contributions. For me, I remember particularly one bit of Stoop Rumor and one bit of certified truth. The Stoop Rumor has it that sometime in 1953-54, Peggy Dickerson was hauled out of C Company BRC ranks .... in full cadet uniform ... THREE times during a single formation by the OC (Lee Nichols, of course). Once while accountability was being taken, once on the march-down and once in the Mess Hall. If it's not true, it SHOULD be, for that was her spirit !!

The certified truth is that I sat next to Peggy at VMI basketball games for 10 years ... she was a great fan of ALL VMI sports, but basketball was her special love. If the game was tight, John would usually leave his seat to go stalk the halls with COL John Barrett to relieve tension, while Peggy couldn't bear NOT to watch ... hands wringing, fingers crossed, muttering "Oh,Lawd !!" under her breath in her distinctive Richmond drawl. Whenever a Keydet went to the foul line, particularly in the last 5 minutes, PARTICULARLY in a close game, Peggy would assume a literal attitude of prayer ... head bowed, eyes tightly clenched shut, fingers crossed, and one would hear, sotto voce, "Come on, dahlin', make it. We NEED this one !" She always awaited the crowd reaction before opening her eyes. I doubt she actually SAW three foul shots by VMI players in 40 years.

Saturday night, the VMI Keydets defeated East Tennessee State 58-53 in a Conference game at ETSU. I know Peggy was there cheering them on. With her eyes closed for all foul shots.

I would appreciate those who frequent this site from remote locations passing on the word of this great loss to our Family.

In the Bonds, COL Roy Hammond, '57

VMI Basketball: The Keydets play an away game at Appy State tonight. Our team stands at 4-8 and 2-1 in the conference. Our latest game was against Davidson who trounced us pretty badly.

VMI Football: The following provides some insights into VMI new football coach. As an aside I understand that the new coach is hiring several assistant coaches who previously coached at military colleges.

Thursday, January 07, 1999
"I didn't come to VMI to lose'
Winning soon the only option new coach sees

Cal McCombs inherits a program at VMI that is 1-21 the past two seasons,
but he expects the Keydets to challenge for the Southern Conference


   LEXINGTON -- Cal McCombs left the Air Force Academy to become VMI's
head football coach. He still seems to be experiencing a Rocky Mountain

    McCombs, who was Air Force's defensive coordinator the past nine
years, was hired three weeks ago to take over a program that hasn't had
a winning season since 1981. He began work at VMI this week with plenty
of confidence.

    "I didn't come to VMI to lose. ... Success to me is winning the
Southern Conference. Now, you're going to say, "That guy's smoking
dope.' I might be. I don't think so," the rookie head coach said
Wednesday at a news conference.

    The 53-year-old McCombs succeeds Ted Cain, who was fired in November
after going 1-20 in two seasons. The Keydets, who have lost 22 straight
games to Division I foes, were 1-10 overall and 0-8 in the Southern
Conference this past season.

    "We've got to make our guys believe they can win," McCombs said. "My
timetable is to win next year. Is that possible? I don't know."

    William Calvin McCombs II has the military-school background VMI was
seeking. Air Force went to 10 bowls in McCombs' 15 years at the school.
McCombs helped the 12-1 Falcons win the Western Athletic Conference
crown and the Oahu Bowl this year. The Belmont, S.C., native also was an
assistant at his alma mater, The Citadel, for 13 years.

    "If he can't do it, I'm not sure who can," VMI superintendent Josiah
Bunting said.

    Said McCombs: "[With] my experience in military schools ... I feel
like it's a great fit for me. I'm just praying I'm a great fit for it.
... If you can do it at the United States Air Force Academy, you can do
it at VMI. We can have a great program."

    The Division I-AA Keydets always have a young team because of player
attrition. Seven freshmen quit this year's squad, which had only nine
seniors and six juniors. The Keydets had more than nine seniors just
once the past six seasons.

    The school's harsh Rat Line is partly to blame for the retention
woes. Quarterback Robbie Chenault has said the college must "make some
changes over on the hill, in the barracks, if they want a good Southern
Conference program. Until that happens, I'm not sure it'll ever change."

    "I don't believe that," McCombs said. "Of course, I don't know that
much about the school."

    McCombs may find that VMI is tougher on its students than Air Force
is. Former VMI athletic director Eric Hyman has said Air Force has more
liberal regulations and more adult supervision of its students than VMI,
where he said students "end up being a body bag on the side of the

    McCombs figures he must make an honest sales pitch to recruits.

    "If we can sell them on coming to VMI realizing they're going to do
a little bit more to get a little bit more out of their education, our
attrition rate may go down," McCombs said.

    VMI had the worst defense in its history this season, breaking
school records for the most points (42.5 per game), total yards (462.1
per game) and rushing yards (293.7 per game) allowed. They also ranked
dead last in Division I-AA in pass-efficiency defense.

    McCombs will scrap Cain's 4-3 set for Air Force's 3-4 scheme, which
features three defensive linemen and four linebackers. The Falcons
ranked sixth in Division I-A in scoring defense (13.3 ppg) and 11th in
total defense (293.5 ypg) this year.

    "We blitz a lot," said McCombs, who will earn $90,000 a year under
his five-year contract. "The defense we run is a fun defense for

    The Keydets averaged just 13.4 points, 115.2 yards rushing and 285
yards of total offense this season. McCombs will replace Cain's
I-formation for Air Force's option-oriented flexbone, which features
three running backs, one receiver and one tight end. The Falcons ranked
third in Division I-A in rushing offense (266.8 ypg) and 14th in scoring
offense (35.3 ppg). They averaged 126.8 yards through the air.

    "I know I'll have a bunch of people wanting me to throw it 50 times
a game," McCombs said. "But you look at teams that have won year in and
year out, they've found a way to rush the football. ... Option football
does give you a chance to be able to rush the football."

    Mark Berman can be reached

   at 981-3125 or markbe@roanoke.com


    Former Air Force assistant Cal McCombs says instilling a winning
attitude at VMI will be one of his top priorities as head football

   'If we can sell them on coming to VMI realizing they're going to do a
little bit more to get a little bit more out of their education, our
attrition rate may go down.'

Meeting of the Alumni Association Board: The Board will meet on January 16 in Moody Hall. I believe a cocktail reception will be held the previous evening. If you're interested in attending either, please contact the Alumni Association at (800) 444-1839. Not sure whether I'll be able to attend as we're in the midst of the frozen tundra up here in Pittsburgh. If I don't attend I'll pass along information that I can glean from the meeting minutes.

The Assimilation of Women: I understand that Dr. Laura Brodie, wife of Regimental Band Director John Brodie, is working on a narrative that will provide insights into the assimilation of women into the VMI Corps. From what I hear, it's very interesting. Be on the lookout for it.

Cell Phones?: I hear that various members of the Corps are toting cell phones these days. Appears that these are unauthorized and being caught with one results in some demerits. Ah yes, I knew technology would overcome the lack of phones in cadet rooms!

Breakout: Not sure what the status of breakout is and whether the rats will still be marching the last 20 or so miles to New Market. I did hear that the rats will undergo something akin to the Marine Corps Crucible. I'll check and report back.

Hey that's it for this week.

Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75

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