Alumni and Friends of VMI:
Cyber Corps Numbers: 520
Required Reading: I first saw this posted in the Electronic Turnouts.
WHAT IS A VET?
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg--or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.
You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the bar room loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown
frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come
back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat--but has saved
countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into
Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence
at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the
anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or
in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket--palsied now and
aggravatingly slow--who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all
day long that his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being--a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean
over and say, "Thank you."
That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".
Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.
Update on Breakout:
Thursday, November 05, 1998
25-mile march proposed
New approach in works for VMI's "breakout'
Senior cadets think a march to New Market is fitting, since the battle
is the theme for this year's ratline.
By MATT CHITTUM
THE ROANOKE TIMES
LEXINGTON -- This year's freshman "rats" at Virginia Military
Institute won't have the fond memory of scratching their way through
freezing mud to liberty from the rigors of the "ratline."
"Breakout," the filthy climax of the six-month training period
freshmen endure, will be significantly cleaner this year, though senior
class President Ezra Clark promises it will be every bit as daunting.
If the plans are approved by the senior class and the
administration, members of the class of 2002 will complete a march of 25
miles to the battlefield at New Market, where 10 VMI cadets perished in
Civil War combat. To culminate the ritual, the rats will charge across
the "Field of Lost Shoes," just as their predecessors did on May 16,
After marching over 80 miles up the Shenandoah Valley, the VMI Corps
of Cadets joined Confederate forces that day in a charge across the
Bushong family farm, taking a battery of cannons and giving the
Confederacy one of its last victories of the Civil War.
The leaders in the senior class, which runs the ratline, wanted a
breakout for this year's rat mass that would be "something new,
something meaningful," Clark said. They think a march to New Market is
fitting, because they chose the battle as the theme for this year's
"The hill is still an option," Clark said, "but it's not one we're
The march is a marked departure from the climb up the muddy hill,
which is fraught with its own kind of symbolism.
VMI Superintendent Josiah Bunting III has called the hill climb the
"concentrated essence of the ratline."
Throughout the year, the rats' lives are complicated by
upperclassmen who quiz them on VMI history and compel countless
calisthenics from them. Those same upperclassmen impede their progress
through the mud. But in the end, the rats are embraced by the upperclass
and helped up the hill, just as they are accepted as full-fledged
members of the corps of cadets after breakout.
Clark said the march is much grander on a symbolic level, connecting
the rats to their predecessors who fought and died at New Market.
Some alumni agree.
"It seems more memorable to me just to recognize what those young
guys had to go through back then," said Al Soltis, former president of
the Roanoke Chapter of the VMI Alumni Association. "It's going to help
us get back to our roots, if you will."
Besides, the ratline changes constantly, including breakout.
Before the hill ritual began in 1981, rats had climb barracks
stairwells that were greased and clogged with ropes, furniture and
In another incarnation of breakout, rats ran through a gantlet of
seniors armed with paddles and coat hangers. It was called "Bloody
While the details of the ratline may have changed, the spirit of it
has not, those who have endured it say.
"The thing that's never changed in my mind is the individual
challenge," said Tim Cordle of Roanoke, a 1979 graduate and Soltis'
successor as president of the Roanoke alumni chapter.
Every incarnation of breakout has culminated in "one final push
effort, something that might look insurmountable, something that drew
everything up into one final climax," Cordle said. The march seems to
meet that requirement, he said.
Originally, the seniors wanted to take four days and re-create the
entire march the 1864 cadets made, but the school's academic schedule
wouldn't allow it.
The latest plan is to put the rats through a series of workouts on a
Friday and Saturday in late February and then march the last leg to the
battlefield on Sunday.
To anyone who thinks this year's breakout will be easier than years
past, Clark has an open invitation to see for themselves.
"I challenge anybody to participate in the weekend," he said. "Come
From the Archives of the Old Corps: One of our Old Corps participants provided the following bit of interesting information.
Last Company Room was one of the incarnations preceding those in the above article. Company Room was a mandatory session called for the Rats. Routinely, it was extra close order drill on the bricks for the mice. It was basically a Corporal-conducted function [corporals were all 3rds], some participation by Sgts [2nds] and on rare, gut-wrenching occasions 1sts. The latter, with the exception of Last Company Room, was the result of some extreme screw-up which incensed the 1sts enough to interrupt their rack time & lounging in the back room of the PX to personally take the Rats in hand.
Last Company Room was a morph of the 300 Spartans. In this case the Spartans (Rats) were in a room cleared of furniture & lined with matresses. The Pass at Thermopylae (the door) was held by Xerxes' Persian Horde (the upperclassmen). The Rats were to break out of the room. When they had succeeded, they were treated to Bloody Sunday as a reward.
Brass Shortage at The Citadel: Seems our brethen down at The Citadel have misplaced a certain brass dog of theirs.
PODIUM WITHOUT A BULLDOG
The podium to the Savas Memorial still stands erected; yet, it still remains without its brass bulldog. All of the areas painted with "VMI" have been covered, yet the bulldog remains AWOL.
According to reports, the cadet Regimental Commander addressed the Corps last week informing them that the bulldog had been located and that it was on its way back to school. Thus far, cadets report, this has not happened.
The Regimental Commander also allegedly told the Corps that the alleged
perpetrator had been fingered, and was facing serious charges by the
Public Safety at VMI. He also informed the Corps that VMI's Public
Safety would be keeping a sharp eye on the campus, and will swiftly deal
with any Citadel attempt at vindication or revenge. It was believed that
this was just an attempt to thwart any effort to travel to VMI and exact
revenge on their school.
Many Citadel officials believe the actions are going too far. Sources in
the Commandant's Department report that some of the brass in Jenkins
Hall have been bemoaning the high-cost of this rivalry, and have been
suggesting that maybe we establish a truce with VMI. They cite the
high-cost as being the main motivation. It is not known whether this
position is supported by General Mace.
Speaking of Brass: Seems that the rats did something at a recent pep rally that got under the skin of the first class. So......the first class decides that the rats aren't worthy enough to wear the brass VMI plate on their hats. Not sure this has had the desired impact. Seems rats don't mind this "punishment" because they don't have to keep the brass plates shined. I hear the rats are trying to think up some way to hack the first class enough so that they (the rats) won't have to wear shoes.
VMI Football: ASU 51 - VMI 0....next up is The Citadel.
VMI Basketball: The basketball team won its first exhibition game 84 - 60 against the Brazilian team.
Cross Country News: VMI men recently finished 9th at the Southern Conference championship.
VMI women placed 7th at the championship.
Must Be Something in the Cyber Water: Another e-mail hailing the arrival of yet another cyber baby. Dave and Lisa Smith '87 are the proud parents of their first child, Malena Alyssandra. Malena was born on August 5, 1998. The vast Cyber Corps management team is working feverishly behind the scenes with hopes of talking to the parents of cyber babies to try an put together an arranged future cyber marriage. Can a cyber dowry be far behind?
Friendly Reminder: Remember, the A&E show about Chesty Puller (as part of the Biography) series airs Nov 10. My trusty TV Guide indicates that the show will air at 8:00 PM eastern. Don't miss it.
Hey, that's it for this week.
Yours in the Spirit,
RB Lane '75
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