VMI Cyber Corps

Alumni and Friends of VMI:

From the "I Wish I'd Said That Department": The following letter to the editor recently appeared in US News and World Report. Please note the eloquent response.

US News & World Report, 4 Oct 99; Letters
HOW DISTURBED I WAS TO SEE YOUR article in the September 6 issue about ROTC scholarships as a means of providing funds for a college education. The education associated with ROTC is a contradiction to the academic freedom enjoyed at university campuses; military training on college campuses, in fact, makes a mockery of education. Far from taking a global view of learning, ROTC encourages narrow patriotism and a philosophy of any means (killing people and polluting environments) to the end. The institutionalized mistreatment of gays and lesbians in the military and sexual harassment of women are par for the course .
Professor of Social Work
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Dear Professor Van Wormer,

I just finished reading your letter to the editor in U.S. News & World Report magazine (4 Oct) and was compelled to address your shockingly prejudiced, obviously uninformed and frankly laughable viewpoint on ROTC and the military in general. Your unenlightened perspective belies a reckless if not tragic ignorance that brings disrepute upon the institution that employs you. It is a shame you felt obliged to comment on something you apparently know so little about. I wonder if in your extensive research in "Social Work" you ever encountered someone who's actually served in the armed forces? The answer goes without saying.

Allow me to be your first. It troubles me that you must be reminded that the academic freedom you enjoy and cherish so dearly was purchased with the precious lives and blood of many a noble soldier on wretched battlefields here and abroad over the past 223 years. Do you honestly believe freedom of any sort comes without tremendous cost? Are you so willfully naive to think you'd enjoy the same license if you were a professor in China, Iran, North Korea, or the Sudan?

How many young men and women have you talked to lately who spent their Christmas holiday patrolling some godforsaken minefield like Bosnia, or their 5th wedding anniversary in a row at sea, or the birthday of their first daughter stopping a madman from achieving his goal of ethnic cleansing? Tell me. Do you really think we acknowledge a call to the profession of arms so we can "kill people and pollute environments?" To believe such sophomoric rubbish demands some fairly sophisticated cerebral blinders.

I have served in the U.S. Air Force for 11 years now, flying long hours over countless global hot spots, and I have not once encountered a fellow solider, sailor, or airman who subscribes to a "narrow patriotism and a philosophy of any means." Not one. Rather, they are ladies and gentlemen of highest caliber, selfless devotion to the cause of freedom, and tireless service to an often-thankless nation. Your mischaracterization is so off base it borders on unforgivable.

It would seem to me that your Department of Social Work would have whole syllabi devoted to the role of the military in the field of social work. I can think of no greater social service than an institution committed to risking the lives of its members to preserve and defend the very citizenry from which it hails. How many oppressed refugees, disaster victims, and starving children have been mercifully delivered from their plight by the military in just the last decade? Need we reflect on the fact that the whole of Western Europe owes its freedom from Nazi fascism to a valiant few in olive drab and khaki? Perhaps you should invite a concentration camp survivor or a Kosovar Albanian to give a guest lecture extolling the magnificent "social services" they've benefited from at the hands of the military.

Finally, I find it humorous that academics like yourselves who indoctrinate our youth with the dogma of "positive tolerance" for every aberrant lifestyle cannot find it within yourselves to tolerate aninstitution to which you owe your very peace, comfort, and well being. It is an amusing double standard. My exhortation to you is to get out of th rarified air in your office, walk over to your ROTC detachment in LangHall and interact with the men and women in uniform and those aspiring to wear it. Perhaps then you will wake up from your slumber of conscious ignorance, join the ranks of the enlightened, and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the freedoms you take for granted and those who sacrifice daily on your behalf to secure it.

In Service To You,

Capt Jonathan Clough

Citadel Sex Bias Suit To Go Forward

.c The Associated Press


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A judge has ruled that The Citadel can be held liable if it is proven that five former students harassed a female cadet at the state-supported military college.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson ruled Tuesday that The Citadel can be tried for sexual discrimination since schools that receive federal funds can be sued under Title IX if one student sexually harasses another.

Jeanie Mentavlos, one of four women admitted to the formerly all-male school in 1996, sued five former cadets, alleging she was hazed and harassed before she dropped out after one semester.

Mentavlos, of Charlotte, N.C., also alleges that Citadel officials violated her civil rights by failing to act against male upperclassmen who were hostile about the admission of women.

The judge dismissed about half of her 34 complaints and ruled that the former cadets should be tried separately from the school. Anderson said there was evidence The Citadel may have covered up the allegations, but did not say what that evidence was.

The former cadets are scheduled to go to trial first, on Nov. 12. Anderson said he does not want testimony from The Citadel to taint the jury's decision against the men.

``The cadets had nothing to do with the cover-up by the school,'' he said. Anderson said he will make a written decision on claims against the school pending the outcome of the former cadets' trial.

The lawsuit claims Ms. Mentavlos suffered ``insults, indignities, physical assault and humiliating treatment which went far beyond any need to toughen, strengthen or acclimate plaintiff to the rigors of military discipline.''

Attorney Dawes Cooke, who represents The Citadel, said Mentavlos has presented ``a shotgun blast of numerous types of things.'' But Mentavlos' attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said he can prove a pattern of harassment that the school did nothing to stop.

``The Citadel cadets prey on those who are different,'' Harpootlian said. ``Everything that was done was not because she couldn't cut it, it's because she was a woman.''

Mentavlos, who graduated from Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., and is teaching sixth grade, had said earlier she looked forward to a jury trial, but referred comment to her attorney after Tuesday's hearing.

Shannon Faulkner became the first female cadet when she entered The Citadel under a court order in 1995. She dropped out after less than a week, citing the stress of the court fight and her isolation in the corps.

Kim Messer, another female cadet admitted with Mentavlos in 1996, settled a lawsuit against The Citadel last year for $33,750. In May, Nancy Mace became The Citadel's first female graduate.

Meanwhile, the second beating incident at The Citadel in a week has resulted in an injured cadet leaving the military school Tuesday with 14 stitches over one eye and an injured head.

Another incident this month led to aggravated assault and battery charges against James Edward Trabert, 23, of Bellefontaine, Ohio, court documents said.

According to affidavits filed by four alleged victims , Trabert allegedly punched them in the ribs and kidneys, slapped in their face and hit them with a broom. Two were burned with a cigarette, one on his back, the other on his hand.

VMI Through the Eyes of Others: I believe the e-mail from a Plebe at the US Naval Academy speaks volumes about the Institute.

Hi guys thought I'd pass on this an e-mail I got from my daughter who is currently a plebe (Class of 2003) at the U.S. Naval Academy. Its good to see "The I" get good press from someone who is on the "inside". Sure made me proud to be a part of VMI! {Well, I certainly hope that she's just a little bit prejudiced.}

Check six!

I just want to tell you how impressed I was with a VMI cadet out here today. I went to part of the Corbin seminar, which brings students from each service academy plus VMI and the Citadel to compare ideas, etc. During this session, one got up from each school and gave us a run-down of privelages and anything else they felt the rest of us should know. (It made me glad to be where I am--Navy's the best!)

Anyway, a guy got up from VMI, and instead of going on and on about how easy or hard his school was, the first words out of his mouth were, "The most important thing at my school, above anything else, is the Honor Concept." The room went absolutely silent. No more chattering or snickering like there were for the other speakers; complete silence. He was taken seriously right away. He talked about that for a little bit, then went on about the dyke system and some traditions, but he wasn't bragging about how hard it was--he was stating the facts, and we were all impressed. He "done good" representing ya'll. Just thought you should know.


Recruiting Tip: Last night our local alumni chapter (Western Pa.) hosted a recruiting reception in Pittsburgh. Our program includes remarks by members of the Corps, the Alumni Association, various alumni, etc. However, one thing that has proven particularly effective is to have a VMI mom offer her remarks. We have moms of current or recently graduated cadets speak about their experiences as a VMI mom. The mom's don't pull any punches and they tell it like it is. They speak of anxious moments and worry and getting adjusted to the VMI terminology and traditions. What's really impressive is the uncontainable pride that they exhibit when offering their insights. For those planning recruiting receptions, you may want to include a VMI mom on your agenda. The impact is incredible.

VMI Class Rings: In attendance at our abovementioned recruiting reception were two second classmen. They have their Ring Figure coming up and I asked them about the size of the class rings. They indicated that the rings could be as big as 40 pennyweight. Now that's a chunk of metal. Smaller sizes are also available upon request.

The VMI Rugby Connection:

Huge Splash Across the Pond

Would-be NFL tight end Dan Lyle has taken up a new game -- and reinvented it
Click here for more on this story

Posted: Tuesday September 28, 1999 08:58 AM

Lyle found the perfect outlet for his athletic skills. Jamie McDonald/Allsport

By Grant Wahl

The son of a two-star Army general, Dan Lyle wants it known that he loves his country, he really does. It's just that, by choosing obscurity in England over glitz in the States -- the Bath Rugby Club over the Minnesota Vikings -- Lyle surely violated some law dating back to the Revolutionary War. "All my friends were saying, Go to Minnesota, you idiot!" says Lyle, who weighed simultaneous offers from the two teams in 1996. "But some of the best experiences of my life had been in rugby, and one reason I left football in the first place was that the turnover is so high and the guarantees are so low. I finally decided if you enjoy what you're doing, why spoil a good thing?"

Lyle told the NFL to take a hike, and three years later, on the eve of next month's Rugby World Cup, he's the first American to be considered among the best players on the planet. So smitten with him is the London Sunday Times that last year it named Lyle, 28, to its World 15 international all-star team. "For a big guy he has absolutely staggering athleticism, and his dexterity with the ball is amazing," says Stephen Jones, the Times's rugby correspondent since 1983. "He's probably one of the most extraordinary players I've ever seen."

How could this happen? How in just five years could a part-time Bennigan's waiter and aspiring NFL tight end take up rugby, sign with the world's most storied club and redefine the number 8 flanker position? What's more, if Lyle could do it, how good would the U.S. be if other talented football players -- Barry Sanders, we know you're listening -- followed Lyle to the field where sissydom is defined by helmets and pads?

In England, where the 6'4", 245-pound Lyle is both a marvel and a Marvel Comics character (CAPTAIN AMERICA! screamed one tabloid), his secret is simple. He combines the skills developed in common American sports -- football, basketball and soccer -- with a blessed disregard for English stuffiness. Take kickoffs. While most rugby teams allow their opponents to catch kickoffs, Lyle barrels downfield and leaps for his own team's hanging boot as though he were Jerry Rice. "Dan is universally regarded as the greatest regatherer of kicks in the U.K.," says Jones. Take pitches. Three or four times a match he will toss a behind-the-back or over-the-head pass la Larry Bird, astounding the Brits. "To me it's a natural thing, but they're so traditional," Lyle says. "They had never really been exposed to Americans playing their sport, and they didn't know how to react."

Add to that flair a soccer sweeper's defensive vision, a running back's ability to break tackles and a basketball forward's 36 1/2-inch vertical leap (the better to catch line-outs, rugby's inbounds play), and it's easy to understand why U.S. coach and general manager Jack Clark says, "Athletically, Dan is a bit of a freak."

Freakish is probably the best way to describe Lyle's rise through the rugby ranks. It began in spring 1993, when he was living outside Washington, working as a waiter and hoping for a call from an NFL team. Lyle had gone undrafted despite his success at Virginia Military Institute, where he was the third-leading receiver in school history. On a lark one weekend his cousin Mark Casey invited Lyle to play a match with the Washington Rugby Club in Kenilworth Park. "It was the greatest thrill of my life," Lyle says. "Here was a combination of every sport I'd ever played, a sport that was all about attacking. In college I had been a receiver on a wishbone offense, so I caught only 30 balls a year. Now I could go get the ball."

It wasn't long before Clark, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., heard the buzz about the football player who was terrorizing the D.C. rugby scene on weekends. At a club tournament in Hartford that summer, Clark met Lyle for the first time. "Word had gotten out that I was looking for athletes who didn't necessarily have much rugby experience," Clark says. "Dan looked very much the business. His hands were twice the size of a normal man's, and his body was clearly NFL material."

Without even seeing Lyle play, Clark invited him to the next U.S. training camp in Riverside, Calif., where Lyle's first attempt at catching a kickoff made his coach's jaw drop, cartoonlike, to the turf. "On kickoffs you need to have great timing, sprinter's speed and flypaper hands," says Clark. "Well, the first time Dan ran down a kickoff he was better at it than anyone else in the world. He didn't know anything else about what to do out there, but it didn't matter. We could teach him all that."

After a couple of failed tryouts with the Washington Redskins, Lyle began traveling with the national team, moved to Aspen, Colo. (rugby's summer hotbed), and in October 1994 -- just 14 months after taking up the sport -- earned man-of-the-match honors in his first game for the U.S., against Ireland. He won them again in his second appearance as the Americans beat Canada on the road for the first time, 15-14. In May 1996, he approached a scout from Bath who had come to look at one of his U.S. teammates. "I went up to him and said, 'I'll be the biggest, strongest, fastest flanker you've ever had,'" Lyle says. "You know, the whole Jack Nicholson thing. You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall."

Rugby had just gone professional in England, and Bath, the six-time national champion, took a look at the cocky American and made him an offer: one year, $52,000, no guarantees. At the same time the Vikings had another deal on the table: one year, $116,000 base, no guarantees. As Lyle pondered his decision for a month, Minnesota grew impatient. He had to choose, and he picked Bath.

At Bath, Lyle's learning curve was "exponential, almost inverted," he says. He was man of the match in his first-team debut, a nationally televised showdown against rival Harlequins, and soon took over as the starting number 8, a position right behind the scrum that demands the skills of both a fullback and a middle linebacker. At the end of the 1996-97 season he was named the English Premiership's newcomer of the year and one of five finalists for player of the year. That was nothing, though, compared with the following season, when Lyle led Bath to a 19-18 victory over the French club Brive in the European championship before 50,000 fans in Bordeaux, France.

Lyle's astonishing rugby feats have spawned wild-eyed conjecture among the sport's American fans: What if more football players took up rugby? "They all say overseas that whenever we take this game seriously, we'll beat everyone, and it's true," says Lyle. "If I could get some All-Pros and train them in rugby, we'd go out and kick ass. Hell, I'll take all those guys who were second-team All-SEC but didn't make the NFL, guys who don't want to work for $25,000 a year at Kmart when they could be full-time athletes making $100,000, playing a sport that's pretty damn fun."

That said, he won't have them for the five-week-long Rugby World Cup, the world's third-most-watched sporting event (behind soccer's World Cup and the Olympics). Besides Lyle, the only U.S. player who was a football standout is French-born flanker Richard Tardits, who became the alltime sack leader at Georgia and had a four-year NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots. Despite a recent 106-8 loss to England, the Americans are optimistic. Ranked 17th in the world, they have upset Canada, Fiji and Tonga this year, a remarkable feat for a World Cup team that doesn't field an entire lineup of professional players. (The unpaid players on the U.S. roster include two landscapers, a substitute teacher, a miner and a chiropractor.)

The Yanks have gone 1-5 in their two World Cup appearances, in 1987 and '91, and if they are to fulfill their goal of reaching the second round this year, they'll almost certainly have to win twice: against Ireland in their Oct. 2 opener -- in Dublin -- and against Romania. (The Eagles' other opponent in the first-round round-robin is Australia, a tournament favorite.) "We're playing against guys who've played the game since they were five and have every resource," says Lyle. "We don't have that, but we do have a great will."

They also have a transcendent player, one who's making from $200,000 to $250,000 a year and has no regrets about dissing the NFL. "No one's going to offer me a million dollars to play American football, and I'd never give up the experiences I've had in rugby," says Lyle. Besides, he has at least two World Cups in his future, and he points out that rugby may reappear in the 2004 Olympics after an 80-year hiatus. "Did you know we're the reigning Olympic champions?" he says. "Paris, 1924. I'll bet nobody in America knows that."

Nobody in America knows Dan Lyle, either. The way he's taking over his new sport, that may be about to change.

"The first time Dan ran down a kickoff," says Clark, "he was better at it than anyone in the world."

That's it for this week.

Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75

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