From the Fall 2016 edition | Back
By J. Pearson ’87, chairman, Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Inc.
My first year is in the books.
I just completed my first full year as your chairman. What a year. Here are a few of the highlights:
• We successfully opened and moved into Pearson Hall.
• Your Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets is now the largest in modern history, numbering 1,093 cadets.
• We raised the private portion for our new Corps Leadership and Military Sciences (CLMS) building, and it is in the design phase. The CLMS building is on the short list of the university’s priorities. We still need the state’s approval, and we will need your help to keep it moving through the budget process.
• The new residence hall replacing Brodie Hall is scheduled to open after winter break.
• Our cadets have an average 3.0 GPA. Now, that is something I have never experienced.
• The Class of 2020 made it through New Cadet Week and is settling in.
• The ROTC detachments’ commanders continue to get asked for more officers as the services recognize the quality they produce. We commissioned more officers by percentage (64 percent) than the other senior military colleges.
• Our Emerging Leader Scholarship (ELS) program is helping recruit and retain our cadets, but we can do better. That is my No. 1 goal for next year. All of our cadets should receive an ELS.
In addition, we just completed another successful reunion. The Virginia Tech football team posted a 49-0 shutout over Boston College, which made it all the better. We had almost 400 folks representing eight decades of alumni attend our various events. We also had more than 200 alumni march onto Worsham Field before the football game and 20 stand by the Corps to welcome the team during “Enter Sandman.”
Our guest speaker for our Saturday lunch, Gen. Carlton “Dewey” Everhart ’83, talked about his airlift command and how our great Corps is producing awesome quality officers. He said, “Gen. Fullhart, feed me more!”
A C-17 from his command in Dover, Delaware, flew over Lane Stadium for the national anthem, piloted by our alumnus. Yes, I gazed up to see the huge aircraft soar over the football field. What a proud moment. During halftime, the war birds flew over to tremendous applause.
Maj. Stan Cohen ‘49 again proved his dedication by bringing a C-45 named “Hokie Pokie” and two AT-6, all World War II-era airplanes, to Blacksburg. He even told a story during our dinner about roasting a deer after a game. Gen. Fullhart quickly reminded the cadets in the room, “That was then, and this is now.” We all laughed.
We had seven cadets speak to us about their experiences and how our support helps them succeed. The Regimental Commander Cadet Col. Mike Schoka, Class of 2017, led the cadets speaking about how he had to drop out of Air Force ROTC for medical reasons. The Corps inspired him to stick and not to quit, so he moved to the VPI Citizen-Leader Track Battalion. Now he is the leader of Corps.
Gen. Fullhart gave us an update on the Corps, and the bottom line is we are in good shape. His staff continues to deliver a Corps we can be proud of.
The Corps attended the Battle at Bristol and made us very proud. Twenty-two buses and a trailer with Skipper in it made the trip. We as alumni made it happen financially, and the staff executed the plan on time and under budget. When the Corps marched on the track before the game, the cadets filled three-quarters of it. Our Highty-Tighties played, and everyone in the stands stopped and watched.
Even though the score was not what we wanted, having the Corps there will pay dividends in the future with giving, recruiting, and retention.
During our fall board meeting, we had Tom Gabbard Sr., associate director of athletics for operations, as our guest speaker. He is a veteran who loves the Corps. He explained to us how the Bristol game came about and that Virginia Tech always wanted the game to happen. The pay day for the university was great, too! Tom commented on how the Corps looked clean and crisp and had great military bearing as he showed us photographs.
The color guard made national recognition that night and proved to be the best picture he saw of the event. He confirmed that the Corps tradition of handling the flags that the football players carry before each game at home and away will continue. The Corps will continue to be invited to attend big games in future, too.
I would like to thank you for allowing me to serve you as your chairman this year. I do not take the job for granted. I enjoy giving back to an organization that helped me be successful in the military and in business. We all need to pull together to help reach our goals for next year. Please do not forget to write a letter to your U.S. senators asking our Highty-Tighties to march in the presidential inauguration. Please also write your state representatives to approve our CLMS building and Corps funding.
Please remember: As alumni we must communicate, participate, and donate! Ut Prosim!