Reflections From The Hill

February 2023

David Shipula, SMA ’73

Hard to believe the calendar reads February of 2023. Memories of our time on the Hill may seem vivid, but at best those recollections were 47 years ago when SMA closed. Since this bit of information makes all of us 47 years older, there is no better time than this April to gather in Staunton for the 2023 All Class Reunion. Making the trip to Staunton will afford you time to reconnect with old friends, exchange old stories, walk the quaint streets of downtown Staunton, and witness how the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) is thriving and carrying on Truth Duty and Honor.

On the Hill everyone is working diligently in preparation for April’s all class reunion. Arlene Nicely is coordinating the reunion from the museum in Staunton. Reunion chairman Tom Phillips
(Class of ’74) is tweaking the schedule to provide an exceptional weekend. I am sure the VWIL Corp of Cadets, as always, will have multiple impressive performances.

I encourage my classmates from 1973 to attend our 50th reunion this year. We are striving to have at least 30 members of our class attend. Our committee, led by Mark Orr and including Tim Scheel,
Peter Birckhead, George Mastroianni and myself, have been working the past two years to establish a SMA Class of ‘73 Scholarship. Our goal is to raise $50,000, and as I am writing this message, we are just a few thousand dollars short of that mark. If you are a member of the class of ‘73 and have not donated, please consider a donation. No amount is too small. The first scholarship will be awarded at our reunion this year. Thank you to all our classmates who have made this scholarship possible.

In honor of MLK Day of Service, the VWIL Cadets chose a beautification and maintenance project of the SMA-VWIL museum. Cadets cleaned inside and outside of the museum, including cleaning the carpets inside and painting windows outside. We are very grateful for the efforts of all involved.

TRIVIA QUESTION: What naval pilot shot down nine planes in 90 minutes during World War II and set a record in aerial warfare history for a single mission? This pilot received the Medal of Honor for that action and for similar exploits, in which his plane routed a larger enemy force and he shot down seven planes. The answer is in the News & Notes section of this issue.

David Shipula, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

February 2022

David Shipula, SMA ’73

As I type this message the temperature here in Pennsylvania is 8 degrees. Winter here can be cold, although at times beautiful. Each season offers enjoyable activities, although everyone usually has their own favorite. My preferred season when I was an old boy on the hill was springtime. Virginia in April offers pleasant sunny weather, increasing daylight and beautiful landscapes.

With that said, we look forward to our All-Class Reunion April 8 –10 and sharing time with classmates and friends in Staunton. April will be three years since our last reunion due to safety precautions being taken. We are optimistic that our environment will continue to improve, and plans are on schedule for our reunion.

Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.’’ The Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation (SMAAF) Board of Directors continues to work on our strategic plan. Upon its completion the future of the SMAAF Scholarships and the Museum will be solidified. By my calculations the last class of alumni are past retirement age and time marches on for all of us.

Arlene and Brocky Nicely have been the backbone of the museum. For those who were not aware, Brocky had a serious fall in November and was hospitalized for a while. We are thankful that Brocky continues to recover and is expected to make a full recovery. I know Brocky and Arlene are very grateful for all the prayers and well wishes.

Hope to see everyone in April.

David Shipula, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

June 2022

David Shipula, SMA ’73

April for the 2022 all class reunion was indeed an absolute pleasure.

Three years have passed since our last reunion and this year was both enjoyable and a success. Having the opportunity to visit with fellow alumni and classmates afforded time of camaraderie. Walking around on the hill and downtown certainly recalled (for the most part) fond memories. Downtown Staunton remains a quaint and delightful area to visit — obviously, the reason Staunton was named “ONE OF AMERICA’S GREATEST MAIN STREETS.”

Next year’s All Class Reunion will be held April 14-16, 2023. Please mark your calendars if you haven’t attended a reunion in some time or possibly never. Our Old Boy ranks continue to shrink since the SMA Class of ‘76 graduated, the year SMA closed. In 2023 the Class of 73 will celebrate its 50th reunion. And to put into perspective how time is marching on, the last graduating class will celebrate its 50th in three years.

The Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation (SMAAF) board met Friday morning April 8,2022. The SMAAF continues to aspire to provide scholarships and preserve the items in the SMA/VWIL museum. To be able to help a young student or cadet continue their education is indeed a worthy endeavor. The Foundation’s Board of Directors is very grateful for all who have contributed to the scholarships.

The Memorial Wall Ceremony on Friday afternoon was very well attended. Reviewing the plaques on the wall it’s apparent the effect the individuals listed have had on each of us and our country. As I reflect, every one of my instructors on the wall had a positive effect on my life. I look at Colonel Pandak who was mentor, instructor, and coach. Coach Pandak led by example. Our teams won championships year after year. Whether in the classroom or on the basketball court Colonel Pandak knew how to challenge and motivate his students and players. I can give examples of every instructor but those of you who attended SMA have positive stories of your own, I’m sure. This year’s plaque was dedicated to Robert Wease. Colonel Wease was a superior instructor throughout his entire teaching career. Also, many names on the wall such as Navy CAPT McCampbell, Ace of Aces, Medal of Honor recipient, and the Major of St Lo Major Tom Howie, plus Master Sgt. Glenn Gibson and all the military names on the wall are responsible for the freedoms we enjoy today.

Two benches were donated and dedicated on flagpole hill to Colonel Robert Wease and Major Thomas Vames. I was fortunate enough to have had both as instructors. Colonel Wease’s Government class was second to none. Both Major Vames and Colonel Wease would go out of their way to help all their students. I can vividly remember studying in my room and Major Vames would arrive and ask if we had any questions about the assignment. I also recall a stay in the infirmary after surgery and Colonel Wease visiting me to ensure I had all my assignments.

Saturday was the banquet that allowed everyone to have an enjoyable evening. Our speaker was Barry Longyear SMA ‘60. Barry is best known for the novella and film Enemy Mine. Barry was the first writer to win the Nebula, Hugo and Campbell awards in the same year.

The Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership Howie Rifles drill team and the PEARLS unarmed drill team both performed on Friday and were outstanding. Saturday the SMA/VWIL Parade was held and the VWIL Corp of Cadets should be very proud. Every member of the drill teams and Corp of Cadets are to be commended for their dedication and precision. All of us understand marching in step, performing rifle exercises, or trick drill does not happen without many hours of practice and repetition. The VWIL cadets made clear their commitment to excellence. The PEARLS Performance concluded with a resounding shout out of TRUTH-DUTY-HONOR. General Djuric, Command Sergeant Major Johnson and VWIL Band Instructor Richard Adams are to be recognized for their guidance in preparing the Cadets.

Mary Baldwin University President Dr. Pamela Fox, General Djuric Command Sergeant Major Johnson, and the VWIL Corps of Cadets have our deepest gratitude for their assistance in making the reunion a success.

I would like to also thank a few individuals starting with Arlene and Brocky Nicely SMA ‘65 for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Foundation. Tim Scheel Class of ‘73 for agreeing to serve as the SMAAF Secretary, which isn’t the most sought-after position on many Boards. Ed Smith ’76 Reunion Chairman for an exceptional job navigating through Covid as we cancelled and rescheduled two times. Burdette Holmes as his service as a board member ends this year. Burdette has been a valuable board member and a stellar editor of the Kablegram. Finally, Tom Phillips ’74 for taking over as editor of the Kablegram. There is no doubt that Tom will continue to enhance and produce a superb Kablegram.

David Shipula, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

October 2022

David Shipula, SMA ’73

Wow! We are only six months away from our next All-Class Reunion April 14-16, 2023. Rest assured Reunion Chairman Tom Phillips ‘74 and Arlene Nicely are steadfast to provide an enjoyable atmosphere for alumni to catch up with old friends. I would encourage everyone to attend the reunion, especially if you have never had the opportunity to return to Staunton.

The SMAAF Board of Directors met for our Face-to-Face meeting in Staunton September 17th. The Board is finalizing our Strategic Plan. As the years continue to rapidly pass, planning is imperative. The future of the Museum and the VWIL/Legacy scholarships were addressed. The Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation continues to increase the amounts of the scholarships. All can be assured that the Scholarships are going to deserving recipients. Having met quite a few VWIL Cadets and witnessing the VWIL Corps of Cadets at parades and other activities leaves no doubt “Truth Duty and Honor” continues to flourish on the Hill.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the entire Board of Directors for all their efforts. Our alumni can be certain the entire board is working very diligently. Our meeting September 17th had a 100% participation. Seven members were present to meet in the Museum and the rest of the board had taken time to zoom in or phone in from near and far. One member zoomed in from Italy.
I also want to extend a “hand salute” of thanks to Mark Orr ’73 and the SMAAF Finance Committee, especially Chair Gene Ehmann ’74 and Peter Birckhead ’73, for their diligent efforts to develop our Strategic Plan.

Concluding my Message from the Hill I would like to test your knowledge of SMA history — questions that we should be able to answer correctly. Although, if you ask a child or grandchild there is a pretty good chance they will not have an answer. So, this may be our chance to pass on some SMA history.

Question 1. What 1924 SMA graduate did Winston Churchill declare was “the greatest fighting General of all time” and “if we had a dozen more like him, we would have smashed Hitler in 1942”? This General was also depicted in the 1968 film Devil’s Brigade.
Question 2. What 1928 SMA graduate and U.S. Senator ran for President in 1964 against President Lyndon Johnson?
ANSWERS on page 7.

David Shipula, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

November 2021

David Shipula, SMA ’73

First on the list, during my tenure as President of the Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation, is to thank our outgoing President George Mastroianni (SMA ‘73). George initiated our Strategic Planning Process which continues today and led us the last few years during unprecedented and difficult times. George’s solid leadership, friendship and steadfast work ethic are greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank the SMAAF board members for their confidence and the opportunity to serve as President. I will aspire to continue to meet the leadership bar set by those before me.

I would also be remiss, if I did not thank our outgoing Secretary, Richard Henderson (SMA ’63). Rich has served as a Board Member, Secretary, and Chaplain for years. Secretary of the SMAAF can be very time consuming. We all owe Rich, our unsung hero, a great deal of gratitude for going well beyond the call of duty.

Your board met September 18, 2021, in Staunton – we will be updating Old Boys in 2022 on our activities and discussions. Sunny days in the fall are always enjoyable on the Hill. I realize when we were Old Boys, such days in May were closer to summer break or graduation and probably the most enjoyable. Although, at this point of my life, walking up the Hill seems a bit more challenging. But observing the young ladies of VWIL marching and standing in formation evoke some great memories. All the cadets we spoke with presented a very positive attitude. We all certainly enjoyed each one of our conversations.

Plans continue for our All-Class Reunion April 8-10, 2022. After taking all necessary health precautions and cancelling our last two reunions, we look forward to reuniting in April. Due to the postponements, the classes of 1970, 1971 and 1972 will celebrate their 50th reunion. Speakers for the reunion are award-winning writer Barry B. Longyear (SMA ‘60) and Joseph D. Pistone (SMA ‘59), who is a recognized expert regarding undercover operations and organized crime matters.

As we continue to navigate through some of the most challenging times, enjoy the upcoming holidays, family, and friends, and please stay safe.

David Shipula, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

June 2020

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

Ordinarily this column would have been a reflection on the
2020 Staunton Military Academy All-Class Reunion. It would have been written with an occasional smile at the recollection of memories shared, stories told, friendships renewed and begun. It would also have been written with occasional sadness at the new milestones of loss that another passing year has left by the wayside. Truth be told, I am still smiling as I write, thinking of previous Reunions, and I am still sad, knowing that time has taken more of my friends and teachers.

Being deprived of a year’s fellowship at our time of life is no small thing, as the road behind is much longer than the road before us. We expect that next year we will be able to gather in Staunton again and share one another’s company and perhaps raise a glass to absent friends. We can’t know now, though, what the situation will be next April – anyone in the business of making predictions nowadays should be regretting their career choice.

Be assured that plans and preparations for the 2021 All-Class Reunion, which will take place April 16-18, 2021 are well underway. Our keynote speakers have re-committed, our annual raffle will be a mega-raffle, and our Reunion Schedule will be packed with enjoyable and important activities. Next year will be an especially important one for the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, our partner in the preservation of SMA’s legacy, as VWIL will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its founding. Our past and VWIL’s future are parts of one story, and I hope that we have an especially big turnout of Old Boys in 2021, both to make up for lost time (drinks), and to help honor and celebrate our partnership with VWIL.

No.6 advantage of a military boarding school as stated by SMA in 1920:

Habits of self-reliance, self-restraint and independence of thought and action fit him gradually for the larger and more varied duties of citizenship and business. He gets the habit.”

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

February 2020

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

Schools like SMA had unique cultures that evolved over the life of the institution. Our daily lives were governed by traditions that reached back to the very origins of the school. Our time at SMA was punctuated by events, ceremonies, and sometimes ordeals that united us by shared experience not only with one another, but with all those who had gone before or would come after us.

Robert Houston Wease was an important part of that culture for a very long time: he served as a teacher at SMA from 1956 until 1976. His tenure at SMA was part of the experience of most of our current membership. Colonel Wease died on November 22, 2019. The SMAAF Board has voted to establish a $2,000 Scholarship honoring Colonel Wease; Colonel Wease’s Living Legend Plaque will be moved to the Memorial Wall, and a bench honoring Colonel Wease will be dedicated on Flagpole Hill. We will naturally be honoring and celebrating the life and contributions of Robert H. Wease during this year’s Reunion.

“Major” Wease was an important influence on my life, and his passing has gotten me thinking about other teachers and other Old Boys. We had so many legendary teachers – the cast of characters changed as the decades rolled by, though there were threads of continuity for long periods, like Colonel Robert H. Wease. We students were not a random cross-section of American society, and our teachers were likewise not always cut from the same cloth one might find at your local high school. That combination made for some interesting experiences! I’d appreciate it if any of you who have stories or reminiscences about any of the teachers we had at SMA that are inspiring, interesting, amusing, or otherwise memorable would take a moment to write them down and share them with me. Our teachers were a huge part of our SMA lives, and of our post-SMA selves.

This year’s Reunion will mark the 60th anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1960, and the 50th for the Class of 1970. Now is the time to be getting registered, reserved, and ready for Reunion!

No.5 advantage of a military boarding school as stated by SMA in 1920:

He is unconsciously taught by his surroundings and daily and hourly contact with his fellows, those things which make men successful in the world, into which he must soon be thrown.”

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

November 2019

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

The Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation Board of Directors came together in the SMA Museum on September 21, 2019, for our fall face-to-face meeting. It was a lovely day to visit the Shenandoah Valley and spend some time with old friends. I’ll take this opportunity to point out that Burdette Holmes (’62), who has served as our Kablegram Editor for many years, has been transitioning those editorial responsibilities to BG Terry Djuric and the VWIL Corps of Cadets. From this point forward, major responsibility for the Kablegram will be assumed by VWIL. One of my priorities as President is to look for ways to knit closer ties between VWIL and SMAAF. My thinking is that eventually, the active role played by SMA alumni in perpetuating the legacy of SMA will diminish dramatically, and eventually is not very far in the future. As the passing of time pushes us Old Boys further into the background, we hope to see VWIL alumnae step forward and carry our joint legacy into the future. Thanks to VWIL for stepping up to take over editorial duties for the Kablegram – this is just the direction in which we hope to continue to move in the years ahead.

Burdette’s contributions to the Foundation have been substantial and significant, and we should
all be very grateful for the truly amazing job he has done with Kablegram during his tenure as Editor. Burdette’s grace and generosity in dealing with those of us who sometimes treat deadlines more like suggestions are the mark of a true gentleman. Thank you, sir!

It is not too early to begin planning for the 2020 SMA All-Class Reunion, which will take place 23-26 April in Staunton. This year will mark the 60th anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1960, and the 50th for the Class of 1970.

No.4 advantage of a military boarding school as stated by SMA in 1920:

As he is taught to obey so he learns to command and to study character that his influence and efficiency may be increased.”

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

June 2019

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

What a terrific Reunion! I’m happy to report
that the 2019 Staunton Military Academy All-Class
Reunion was very well attended, and that a good
time was had by all. The Class of 1969 made a great
showing, both by their numbers and by the touching
fellowship they share. The dedication of SMA Worth
Field was a great milestone, helping to cement and
perpetuate the bond between our Alumni Foundation
and MBU and VWIL.

I’ll take this opportunity to remind all our Members
that events like the Reunion and our ongoing
relationship with VWIL do not just happen: they
happen because of the hard work and dedication of
people committed to the goals of our Foundation. I won’t attempt to name them all, because I’d be likely to inadvertently leave someone out, as my memory in my declining years isn’t what it used to be. But suffice it to say, that as the years work their magic on all of us, we’re going to need a steady stream of people, who maybe haven’t been all that active in the past, stepping up to keep carrying this ball down the SMA Worth Field. Money is good (or so I’m told), but what we really need is time: some of your hours to help get the things that keep organizations like this going done. So, THANK YOU to all of you who work so hard. You know who you are. And to those
of you who might want to get a bit more involved in the future, PLEASE contact us.

Next year is the 25th anniversary of the founding of VWIL, and if the legacy
of Staunton Military Academy is to be preserved in the future in anything like
the way it is now, it will be because MBU and VWIL continue that legacy after we
are gone. Let’s all think about ways we can continue strengthen what has been and
promises to be a great and permanent association between our two schools. After the
Reunion, I received thank-you notes from VWIL cadets who had received SMAAF
scholarships. I found them very moving, and will share with you a few excerpts:

“When I first came to Baldwin, I had few aspirations that had anything
to do with the military, or even just goals that affected anyone but
myself. But over time, examples of those before me and struggles which I
have overcome have created new goals for personal growth measured by
the growth of others. To me, leadership is no longer a stagnant, current
concept but instead something fluid and developed from examples past. To
receive such an honor as this one means more to me than you could know.
I want to extend my deepest gratitude.”

“I am sincerely honored to have been selected as the recipient of the
Hunter Henry SMAA Legacy Scholarship. Thank you for your generosity,
which has allowed me to continue my path of commissioning into the US
Army upon my graduation.”

“I want to first say how honored I am to be chosen for such a prestigious
award as this one. I understand that those selected for it exhibit
leadership skills in accordance with SMA values and traditions. I am
proud to say that through my time in the Corps I have learned and been
given opportunities to work with and lead others to the best of my ability.
With this important recognition and my strong motivation, I will continue
to use and develop my leadership skills to encourage others and to keep the
SMA values and traditions alive. We didn’t come this far just to get this
far; we are still going and growing.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Advantage of Attending a Military Boarding School #3, 1920 catalog:

He is taught the duty of ready and prompt obedience to those in authority, without questioning that authority.”

Well…mostly. Beat Squad, fall in!

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

February 2019

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

Greetings Old Boys! There is and has been a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes preparing for our Reunion 1214 April 2019. If you haven’t already made plans to attend, now is the time to start! Every Reunion is a special event, as we reconnect with friends and remember our days on the Hill. This year will be no exception, and we’ll have some exciting special events occurring, as well. Through the generosity of Peter Worth, ’57, Kable Field will be transformed into a new athletic complex and renamed SMA-Worth Field, ensuring that SMA will be permanently associated with this part of campus, on which so many of us spent so many formative hours and days. There will be a dedication ceremony and other events to celebrate this great development. Peter Worth’s classmate, John Dean ’57, will be our keynote speaker at the Reunion this year.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the graduation of the Class of 1969. I have heard it said that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t really there, and I suspect the Class of ’69 will make this Reunion pretty memorable. Along those lines, one suggestion I’d like to offer has to do with honoring the legacy of SMA’s contribution to our nation’s defense throughout its history. “Duty” is smack dab in the middle of “Truth, Duty, Honor” and service to others was part of SMA’s canon. Many cadets later served in our armed forces, and we honor their service and sacrifice in many ways. One way I’d like to suggest is that those of us who have served wear a token of our service to the Banquet. Regulations authorize the wear of military awards and decorations on civilian clothes for these purposes. If you can’t find the box in the attic with the miniature medals and badges from your mess dress, they can be easily obtained from a couple different sources. I don’t see this as so much about us as individuals, as I do a way of honoring a tradition of service and sacrifice that our school fostered and of which we should all be proud.

Advantage #2 of a Military Boarding School according to the SMA catalog of 1920:

During the hours set for study and the preparation of lessons, a teacher is always present to render assistance and teach boys how to study.”

And maybe render a swat or two for CQ violators, if memory serves…”

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

October 2018

George Mastroianni, SMA ’73

As I step into Tom Davis’ role as President of our Foundation, it is fitting to reflect for a moment on Tom’s contributions to the project of perpetuating the legacy of Staunton Military Academy. Tom Davis (SMA ’62) was there at the very beginning: he was instrumental in establishing and sustaining what is now the Staunton Military Academy Alumni Foundation, and he has continued to work selflessly (if not tirelessly) to build and maintain the Foundation in a variety of capacities. Tom’s integrity, good will, and good humor have served him (and us) admirably: Tom personifies exactly those traits of character SMA worked to inculcate in all of us. Thanks, Tom, for all you have done and continue to do.

These are exciting times for our Foundation – Peter Worth’s (SMA ’57) generous gift for the renovation of the MBU athletic fields, known to us as Kable Field and now to posterity as the SMA Worth Field, makes possible the lasting presence of SMA’s legacy on these “fields of friendly strife.”  As we look to the future, we have one goal clearly in mind: perpetuating the legacy of Staunton Military Academy. There are many paths to heaven, and there will no doubt be lively discussions and perhaps disagreements about the best way to accomplish that goal as we go forward. Recognizing that we all want to achieve the same thing will make it easier for us to engage one another in the spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood that has brought us together in the first place and to find the right way forward.

I’ve spent some time looking through the Internet at alumni organizations of other schools like ours. There are some that are as well-organized and effective as ours, but many that aren’t, and none that are better. This is a tribute to so many of you who have contributed your time and money, but more importantly, your passion and energy to creating and maintaining this Foundation. Members are not just the life-blood of this Foundation, members ARE the Foundation. Your support and participation are what keep this thing going – what keep SMA alive.

I’m a bit of a history geek and enjoy looking at SMA’s history. I’ll close each of these “Reflections” with an historical observation. I have a copy of the 1920 school catalog, which offers some interesting insights into the SMA of that era. For example, the phrase, “Love is King” was used as something very like a school motto: it appears on the cover and in the front matter of the catalog, and a section is devoted to the concept. There is also a section entitled “Advantages of a Military Boarding School” which lists seven reasons that parents should send their boys to SMA. I’m about to tell you what No. 1 was, but before reading on, you might reflect for a moment on what you think the advantages conferred on us by our attendance at SMA were.

No.1 advantage as stated by SMA in 1920:

The cadet has his time mapped out for him, each exercise has its proper place, and each duty must be performed at the appointed hour.”

George Mastroianni, SMA ‘73
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

September 2017

Tom Davis, SMA ’62

For those that have not heard, it is with great sadness that I report that Marino’s Bar has closed. Known by many SMA Alums as the off -site campus, the business was not saleable, and the family got tired of running it. For many years, blue grass music filled the building. Sometimes a famous performer would come to join the sessions. I think it would be fun for those with Marino stories or memories to send them to the SMA Museum for inclusion in the next Kablegram-Leader.

The lifetime memberships have been well received. We currently have 62 lifetime members. For the rest of us, the membership letter has been mailed to remind us to send in our membership contributions for the new fiscal year that begins September 1, 2017. It is not mandatory, but we like to receive these tax deductible membership donations before November 15.

We have started a program this year to help VWIL obtain swords for their cadet officers. We have a number in the Museum but they were contributed for the Museum. We have commitments for two to be given to VWIL this year. We hope that we will receive a few more. The VWIL officers do not purchase new swords; they are passed along from year to year. About two weeks after the reunion, VWIL has a changing of the guard parade, when the new swords will be presented. It is a wonderful tradition. An article containing all the procedures related to the Sword Donation Program will be published in the December 2017 Kablegram-Leader.

We are getting close to two important deadlines: November 1st for nominations to the Memorial Wall and November 17th for nominations to the SMA Hall of Fame. No late nominations will be accepted this year. Acceptance for these honors is a stringent process that takes several weeks to complete. Please get your nomination completed.

Finally, we have our first registrant for the Reunion on April 13, 14, and 15, 2018. We hope that each of you will consider attending. It is your attendance that makes the reunion special. Also, make your reservations at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. They always seem to fill up.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

Reflections From The Hill

June 2017

Tom Davis, SMA ’62

Staunton Military Academy closed its door 41 years ago. But the spirit of the academy lives in those of us that attended or were associated with the academy in other ways. This spirit was reflected in the fact that 101 alumni attended the 2017 reunion on April 7-8.

Many wonderful moments occurred this year as a number of first-year attendees added to our numbers. I learned more about Ohio State football than I ever wanted to know. We placed two new memorials on the Wall. Some of the older alums, which I guess includes all of us, commented that they thought Mary Baldwin was making the hills steeper. We gave out a number of scholarships to VWIL cadets. Harry Bruckno met the EC Glass player that he allegedly clipped in the 1961 opening game. Tommy Vames got to meet face to face his hero Lennie Rosenbluth as did many of the rest of us. I am still trying to figure out how he could have scored 76 points against Ferrum College. But we all know that he was a legend in his time. I meet people all over Staunton that went out of their way to see him play. Lennie was one of the five persons added to the SMA Hall of Fame. At the banquet at the Stonewall Jackson, General Jeff Smith was an entertaining surprise. He completed his humorous talk by grabbing a guitar and harmonica to sing us a little ditty. Jay Nedry said that this wasn’t his first gig.

My one regret was that I was introduced as the only member of the 1961 Championship team in attendance. But I understand that George Lowry came in late and left early. Therefore, I never saw
him. I was disappointed when I heard that he had been there.

One of the great features of these reunions is that we not only meet older and younger alums that had the same experience, we also get to see classmates. We were little boys together, but grew into men of character. My belief is that with all the travails that we experienced at SMA, character was our biggest takeaway.

Finally, a sad note, Marino’s closed at the end of April for the last time. The last week was standing room only. The musicians are seeking a new place to play. I don’t believe it will be the same. There were parts of the aura that just cannot be duplicated. It was a step back in time.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

February 2017

Tom Davis, SMA ’62

At the 2016 Reunion, I attempted to explain to the VWIL cadets in attendance the importance for an Officer to train the new SMA cadets (rats). I used George Dunnigan as an example. He came from New York with no training at all. I thought that I would help him by having him shine my shoes, clean my brass, and make my bed. It was slow, since he was from New York, but he ultimately learned. Some would say that this was hazing, but there was never hazing at SMA. There were opportunities to learn.

My point is that my 55th reunion is the upcoming event on April 7, 8 and 9. The best part is hearing the stories from fellow cadets. The memories come instantly to mind. As classmates, we grew up together. But all cadets have stories to tell. Most of us have similar stories. Floyd Ostrum SMA ‘62 is attempting to get vast numbers to this year’s event. I truly hope he is successful. Harry Bruckno SMA ’62 is trying to get our championship football team to return. He was in the Museum calling players. He got Butch Christman on the phone. I had not spoken to Butch since we left the Academy. It was like old times.

But the reunions are meant for all classes. This year, the class years ending in 2 and 7 are emphasized. But Alums come from all classes. I am thrilled that Lennie Rosenbluth SMA ’53 is returning this year. Lennie may be the best basketball player to have played at SMA. He was an All American at UNC and played on the undefeated UNC team that beat Kansas with Wilt Chamberlain in the final game to go undefeated for the year. I have never met Lennie, but I am looking forward to having the opportunity.

If you are on the fence about coming, just do it! You will not be disappointed.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

December 2016

The Board of Directors recently held its October meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One of our goals is to create regional meetings in an attempt to generate enthusiasm for those who cannot make the annual reunion in Staunton every year. Sadly, as the Taps section in our Kablegram reveals, our membership numbers continue to decline. The youngest alumni now are about 58 years of age. Consequently, the meeting in Florida was a start to create interest in these regional meetings. We had a few Old Boys attend in addition to board members, so while we would have liked to have seen more folks in attendance, I think that it is a beginning and will grow if nurtured properly.

At the Board meeting, a budget was presented and discussed. Since we had strong diff erences of opinion, I tabled the matter until our November meeting, where the budget was passed. In the interest of an open disclosure, we want the alumni to understand the direction we are headed. The operating budget has a deficit. The problem is on the revenue side. Our major revenue sources are donations and memberships. For those that donated $1,000 for a lifetime membership, $100 is used in the current year and $900 is separated to be used at the rate of $100 per year. The total membership revenue for our fiscal year 2016/2017 is not projected to be suffi cient to cover our current operating expenses. As a result, we will use some of the funds from the Heritage Fund to cover the gap. Certainly, if you have not contributed, we would greatly appreciate gifts of any amount. We continue to explore ways to reduce our operating expense. This creates a dilemma for the Board. As we look to reduce expenses, our options quickly end up with us facing a reduction in the operation of our alumni offi ce and museum. Our goal is to fi nd a balance where we maintain the offi ce and museum, as we have over the years and work within a balanced budget.

At the November meeting, the Board decided that we should keep the museum operating for as long as we can. At some point in the future, the alumni will be too old to come to the Museum. Their children or grandchildren might still wish to come, but the numbers will be less. The Board is thus deciding to continue to be of service to the Alumni as long as possible.

One step to help the budget was decided at the November meeting. Currently, following each Reunion, we have been mailing a printed copy of the Kablegram-Leader to everyone in the alumni database. We will no longer be doing this. We will instead continue to notify by email everyone with an email address on file that a new issue of the Kablegram-Leader is posted on our web site ( For those of you that don’t have an email or use a computer, we still want you to receive your printed Kablegram-Leader, if you ask for one. Also in this issue is an article prepared by our editor, Burdette Holmes, on how you can continue to receive your copy of the Kablegram. Please see page 4 of the December 2016 Kablegram-Leader for full details on this matter.

I want to close by wishing you all a wonderful Holiday and a happy and fruitful New Year.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Foundation

September 2016

Tom Davis, ’62

By the time you receive this Kablegram, the Alumni Association will have been combined with the SMA Foundation. This combination should allow us to provide more understandable reporting on our finances and allow us to save on some expenses. You will recall that our Alumni numbers are dwindling as the Taps section of the Kablegram grows in length. Since the major source of revenue for our organization comes from the Alumni and friends, the Board must constantly be reviewing our expenses.

General Djuric reported at our last Board meeting that VWIL is entering a freshman class of 60. This is quite a large improvement over the past few years and, hopefully, is an indication for the years ahead. This reminds me that VWIL would like to get more members for their band. If you know of someone who might be interested in playing in a military band, I am sure that VWIL will offer some financial aid.

I also want to emphasize to the readers that very shortly the Committee for the SMA Scholarship will be analyzing the applications for that scholarship. If you know of someone going to college this year, please go to the SMA web site to take a look at the criteria.

Finally, I have mentioned in the past the benefits of leaving a bequest from you IRA. Distributions from an IRA to heirs are subject to income tax and possibly estate tax. But a distribution from an IRA for charitable purposes will escape both of these taxes. For those age 70 ½ and older, it is now possible to make tax free charitable gifts directly from IRA’s. Another advantage is that the gift from the IRA counts toward your required minimum distribution. If you have questions or wish to discuss these options, please contact Peter Birckhead at (713) 819-1980.

For those in Florida, the Board will be meeting in Fort Lauderdale on October 22, 2016. You are all welcome to attend the meeting or come and meet fellow Alumni that afternoon and evening. We wish to start having local meetings in most areas of the country. This will be our first attempt at having a local meeting.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Foundation Inc.

June 2016

Tom Davis, ’62

Upon reflection, I titled this letter as repentance for not writing letters while attending SMA. I just never thought about writing letters. As they say, youth is wasted on the young.

Just a few weeks ago, SMA held its all class reunion in Staunton. It really was a blast. The Memorial Wall Ceremony began with the execution of a new lease with Mary Baldwin College (soon to be University) in which our rental term was extended. Lola Kable received a living legend plaque for her commitment to SMA. Alan Daniel ’51 presented a tribute to John T. Colson ’52 and a tribute was presented to Stephen J. Kott ’58 by two of his three children and a grandson. Both were very moving. We also unveiled the new old Eagle.

We then went to the Mess Hall for BBQ and then downtown to the clock tower for music by the Rhondells, and as an added bonus, Jay Nedry had his band play. And yes, we had many AMA and Stuart Hall Alums in attendance.

The next morning, we had the Alumni meeting, and three items are important to point out. First, Ed Smith ’76 had used a drone to take pictures of the MBC campus and the parade. The pictures were excellent. Second, Ed Smith has an article in this KG explaining an action taken by the Boards to merge the Alumni Association and the Foundation. Therefore, beginning on September 1, 2016, there will be one organization- “The SMA Alumni Foundation, Inc.” Our hope is that this will both save some expense and put us in a position to go forward. One impact on the Alumni is that we will no longer have dues. But this is a risk for the finances of our group. Our thinking is that if the Alums make a donation of at least $100, they will get a deduction that did not receive by paying their dues. The dues represent about $20,000 in revenue. We will need to receive a similar sum to keep the office open. Please read Ed’s article.

The third item concerns scholarships. A proposal was put before the Board by Ed Morse, SMA ’59, to create a new scholarship that will be available to all persons going to college. The basis of the scholarship includes a paper describing the applicant’s understanding of “Truth, Duty and Honor”. His committee’s proposal was approved
by the Board. Ed has an article in this KG explaining the new scholarship. Please understand that we still have the VWIL scholarship plan also.

The banquet featured Ned Bonfoey who told humorous stories about cadets getting caught traveling to Stuart Hall after hours. Then Mike Bragg spoke about how people along one’s life have an influence on you, and you are not even aware of it until later. In his youth, he was influenced by several people, which enabled him to successfully
contend with the NFL and his first NFL coach, Vince Lombardi.

Please enjoy the reunion pictures in this issue. Next year’s reunion is scheduled for April 7-9, 2017.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Association

February 2016

Tom Davis, ’62

Over the past several months, the Board, with the guidance of Peter Birckhead has been trying to determine how or if the SMA Eagle that used to be above the entrance to North Barracks could be saved or duplicated. For the past several years, it has been part of the display next to the Memorial Wall. When it would snow, the clearing crew would dump the snow over the wall. Unfortunately, the snow usually was dumped on the Eagle and it was coming apart. To recast the Eagle was going to be very expensive. Jack Lowe came forward with a
plan. The Board accepted the plan, and Jack and his friend Hal Aaslestad put many hours working on the Eagle. It has now been completed to everyone’s delight. It also has a roof over it and will soon have lighting so that it can be seen at night. Everyone should thank Jack and Hal for their efforts.

Our grant writer and Peter Birckhead have obtained a grant that will allow us to put all the old SMA records into a computer archive, where grades and other details will be forever secure. Sensitive records can only to be accessed by authorized personnel, but many of our records will be available to all.

One of my goals during my tenure as your President is to develop chapters for the Alumni Association. Philadelphia had a chapter called the Alexander Patch chapter, when I attended the Academy. The youngest Alum of the Academy is about 57 years of age. As time passes, it will become more difficult for our Alums to make it to Staunton for the Reunion. Thus, my thought is that we have chapters throughout the Country, if not the world. I am finding that it is difficult for me in Staunton to make this happen. Some Alums have come forward and held
small get-togethers, but I hope to see more. If you are interested
in starting a local chapter, let the office know, and we will help
you begin.

Finally, I have received word that two of the greatest SMA football players have passed away this year: Lou Michaels and Bill Quinlan. Both were outstanding in college and played in the pros for a number of years. I met Lou at a reunion a few years ago, and we told stories about our years playing for SMA.

It was a joy

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Association

December 2015

Tom Davis, ’62

The Association has a number of matters in progress. First, Peter Birckhead is in the home stretch of his fundraising commitment to the
Association. His commitment to further solicit alumni will end in
March, 2016. So if you have not given to the Legacy Fund please consider a gift now. And if you do so before December 31, 2015 you can get a tax deduction for this year.

Peter continues to work with our professional grant writer, Susie Miller, of Staunton, VA, seeking grants for 4 important projects we are working and he continues leading the Legacy Project with creating a Last Will and Testament for our association that will protect and preserve our physical and financial assets. More about this and our 4 projects during next year’s reunion.

As many of you know Peter has led the charge on the Legacy Fund since March 2013, and we have now exceeded over $800,000 in cash donations, pledges, and IRA and Life Insurance death beneficiary designations. We owe a great deal to Peter for his stewardship of the Legacy Fund and all of the sponsorship projects that have been completed on our former campus (benches, new museum signage, restoration of the WWI Monument and the Cannon on Flagpole Hill and most recently the restoration of the SMA Eagle in front of the museum).

The Board has been monitoring the repair of the SMA Eagle that used to be over the swinging doors in North Barracks. While this project has created a lot of discussion, Jack Lowe has been working steadily to repair the Eagle. The first step was to put a roof over it for protection from the elements. This has been completed. Jack is now putting it back together with sealers and coatings, and we are anxious to see how it looks when finished.

We realize that as time passes and our group becomes older, it
will become more difficult to attend the reunions. I recall that
Philadelphia used to have a local chapter that was fairly active. The
Massachusetts group gets together annually and has for years. In
the coming months, we are going to try to reestablish these chapters
throughout the country. There are already alums working on chapters
in Florida, North Carolina, and Texas. My vision of these groups
would be to get together over some interval. No speeches, but just
alums getting together to tell stories (some will have some truth in
them). If you have interest, please let the office know so that we
can get you a list of alums in your area.

At our Board meeting earlier this month, General Djurik advised
that she has over 750 applicants for entry to the VWIL Corps next
year. Of this group, she feels that about 80 are highly qualified and
deserving of selection. We will keep you posted.

This is your Association. The Board considers what we feel is
best for the organization. But I am sure that you all have opinions.
Please let us know what we are doing well and what you think we
might improve. If you have new concepts, please let us know.

Tom Davis, SMA ‘62
President, SMA Alumni Association

September 2015

Tom Davis, ’62

At last April’s reunion, Bill Bissett and Tom Phillips stated that when the new fiscal year began on September 1, 2015, they did not wish to remain as officers of the organization. They wished to remain on the Board, but felt that their time had come to pass the torch. Both Bill and Tom have been stalwarts and should be recognized for the wonderful job that they have done these past few years. I am not sure how it happened, but I will be your President for the next year. When I graduated in 1962, no one would have voted me the most likely to be President of the Association. But I accept the challenge.

The youngest alum of SMA is about 57 years of age. Most of us are older, some much older. Therefore, our most important challenges are how we preserve what we had, and how do we make a difference to the future.

The Board has been exploring many avenues toward preserving our heritage. I can say that what we once had will be preserved.

The more difficult question is how we make a difference in the future. We have developed a relationship with VWIL. This occurred when their cadets contacted us to learn more aboutSMA. They felt that their program was an extension of ours. As I have met many of these ladies, I have been impressed with the quality of the Corps. They have clearly not accepted the easiest path to a degree. These young women join the VWIL program to learn leadership skills in addition to their majors. A large percentage accepts their commissions into the armed forces upon graduation. For those that have not met any of these cadets, you will be impressed when you do. There have been years when the program struggled to get and keep new recruits, but I counted 51 freshmen in this year’s VWIL class.

Under the leadership of Pamela Fox, Mary Baldwin University (its new designation) has taken bold steps to grow and improve the quality of the University. I recently learned from VWIL Commandant General Terry Djuric that she has been charged by President Fox to strengthen the VWIL band. SMA always had very strong bands that obtained recognition wherever they performed. A strong marching band will get a lot of attention as time passes. Many of you old band guys will want to consider a donation to our scholarship fund and designate the funds as support for the VWIL band.

Again, I am honored to serve as your President this year. Please feel free to contact me with your suggestions as to how we make the Association even stronger.

Tom Davis, SMA ’62

June 2011

I wanted to thank all of you that made it to our 2011 reunion. I also wanted to let all of you that wouldn’t make it know you missed a good one.

The class of `61 put on the best Friday night dinner we have ever had, and I know they have raised the bar for all of our future Friday night get togethers. The weather was perfect and the parade went off without a flaw except maybe our left and right feet getting a little out of step.

We had a good turn out for the Saturday alumni meeting and some good interaction on all of the issues we discussed. The Legacy Fund was top on the board’s list; we have come up with answers to everyone’s questions and they are posted on our web site. If there are any other questions, feel free to call me on my cell phone and I will do my best to answer them. My number is 330-802-7528. Or you can email me at

Remember: This Legacy Fund is primarily for the future of our alumni association and our museum. We are a slowly diminishing group and we operate the association on a shoestring budget from year to year. The board is working hard to keep all of this moving forward but we get tired of asking every year for money to keep the organization alive. We can as a group come up with 100 donations from individuals or small groups of $5,000 we can raise enough funds to make a base for us to sustain our association for a long time and perpetuate the SMA legacy. I have put my money where my mouth is and donated $10,000 so far and plan on putting the very last $5,000 in at the end of our drive. I thank all of you who have stepped up and already donated – you have started the wave. Please, everyone keep making your tax deductible donations so that we reach our $500,000 goal.

The weekend went great with a short visit to Marino’s by some of us and the Saturday night banquet at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. The speaker, former VWIL Cadet First Captain Erinn Singman, did a great job. She is a member of VWIL’s Class of 2002, and a recently married U.S. Army captain on the promotion list for major. Just before the reunion she married a fellow Army officer, also on the promotion list, so our thanks, congratulations and best wishes go to Erinn and her husband.

I thank all of the VWIL cadets who put up with the Old Boys back on the Hill for the weekend and General Mike Bissell for putting all of the VWIL events together for us. I am still amazed at the VWIL program and very proud that we can help them in the small ways we do.

I look forward to seeing all of you next spring at the 2012 reunion!

Truth Duty Honor,
Bill Bissett, SMA ’74
President, SMA Alumni Association

February 2011

Fellow Old Boys,

When this issue of The Kablegram arrives and you read this letter, the SMA Annual Reunion will be just over a month away. And those of us on the Board of Directors are eager to see everyone on the Hill again.

As was reported to you in the last issue, I was elected on November 16, 2010, to fill Harry Bruckno’s unexpired term. I learned quickly that, even though we miss having Harry on the board, the work goes on. There’s a lot of that occurs behind the scenes prior to the reunion, and it’s especially important to us that you enjoy your weekend back in Staunton – and feel that the event is worth your time and expense.

But – you won’t know unless you come. So if you haven’t already, take a minute and register for the 2011 Reunion, and come back to the Hill this spring and “Savor the memories … perpetuate our legacy.” And call some of your old roommates and classmates, and get them to come. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did.

As those who have served as president of the SMA Alumni Association before me know, we are privileged to lead a board of directors and an alumni cadet corps that carries the SMA legacy. That’s one of the reasons I will be dedicating a significant portion of my time to the SMA Legacy Fund, which is being established to perpetuate our SMA legacy and help insure that, in cooperation with the growing number of VWIL alumni, SMA will be remembered for a long time to come. You’ll be hearing more about the Legacy fund at the reunion, and I look forward to your feedback and discussion.

See you all in April!

Truth, Duty, Honor,
Bill Bissett `74
President, SMA Alumni Association and Foundation

November 2010

You better start making your plans for the Reunion this April, because I understand that it is the Big “50” for the class of ’61, and it has been reported that those “Old Boys” really know how to party. Hopefully, they are coming back in large numbers.

Sergeant Major Nicely has assembled a new display of all the “Old Boys” who have paid the Highest Price possible for our Freedom, by giving their lives in World War II. There were many who made the supreme sacrifice, some who had just graduated from SMA, and others who left for war before their gradation. Of the “Old Boys” that went to war, most returned, some were heroes, some were wounded, and others were just happy to be home. But they all helped keep this a free country for the rest of us. Many SMA Alumni still serve in our armed forces today. So, please keep these people and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Like Bumper Sticker Says, “FREEDOM AIN’T FREE”.

Bruck `62

February 2010

For many of us who graduated from SMA, the Hill (as we are so proud to call it) represents a time and a place that still looms large in our hearts and minds. While we were on the Hill, we had many dreams that were creative and fanciful, even preposterous, but which were entirely within our reach at that moment. Many of those dreams are now just memories of the past, and yet for some of us, they are still hopes for the future.

Those days on the hill now belong to the time of our dreams, to recall and smile over or to think wistfully about. They are souvenirs of things we achieved: the honor roll, scoring a point, or even having a game deciding clipping penalty called against you.

Being part of the SMA Corps on a Sunday afternoon was special, when the town’s people and your friends came to the parade grounds to watch and share those dreams with you. Though dormant now, our dreams reawaken at every reunion.

Those dreams and the actual reality of our lives, both good and bad, bring smiles to our faces and tears to our hearts at every reunion. One cannot help but be touched by the memories. The dreams helped us become what we are today, and when reawakened, they inspire us to aspire to new heights. I have learned that a tackle, once missed, is gone forever. It will never be replayed. Therefore, we should always try to move forward with determination and sincerity,
holding our dreams closely. Never lose sight of those dreams… cherish them, and retain them always.

Come back to the HILL, dream, and remember AGAIN.

Bruck ‘62

November 2009

Since my last column, much water has passed under the bridge. In this Kablegram, I will review the annual Board of Directors meeting held in September 2009. This meeting gave the Board of Directors an opportunity to look at what was going on the past year, to improve on our shortcomings, and to establish new goals set forth by the Alumni. Not all was rosy, and the Board of Directors had to address budget problems with Reunion costs and late

I have one year left on my term as president, and along with the Board of Directors our goal is to have a balanced budget for the coming year of 2010. I am going to ask the Alumni to sponsor faculty members and their guests, along with VWIL cadets for the reunion banquet on Saturday night. The Board of Directors has asked VWIL graduates to sit in on our meetings to help bring the two alumni organizations together, making us STRONGER. They will also help to establish a time table for bringing VWIL Alumnae into our ranks (I guess they will be called “OLD GIRLS”).

I would like to tell you a little about some things that have made me very proud to be an SMA graduate in the past month. Two things happened at the museum. First, we received a phone call from a young lady requesting some information on a graduate from the 70’s. She went on to tell us that her father passed away when she was only seven years old, and she wanted to know more about him. Maybe find out who some of his friends were at SMA so she could tell his grandchildren about him… Second, a gentleman called and requested someone to be at the museum, so he could walk through while he was in the area. He told us that he had not returned to the Hill in 40 years. When he entered the museum, he was taken aback, and all I am going to say is that he choked up and needed to walk outside for a minute (so much for TOUGH GUYS).

We walked around the Hill, took some pictures in front and inside of the Mess Hall, and found some year books with his picture in them. You see, gentleman, he never did graduate from SMA. He had to return home because of problems. His father agreed to let him join the navy at the age of 17. In the navy, he finished his education and also served our country for 24 years. I asked him why he came back to SMA, and he said, “SMA is where it all started for me; it was the beginning of the discipline and order in my life, and I am very thankful that I can return to see where it all started.”

The gentleman had come from the Naval Academy to see the museum and was returning to Annapolis for the Homecoming game. He asked me to thank all of the Alumni for the museum where he could relive his times at SMA. I also would like to thank you for being able to share these experiences over the past four years as your President.

~ Harry ‘62

August 2009

“Old Boys”, let me start by extending a hearty “congratulations” for holding a great reunion, along with a special “thank you” for the fine attendance at the Saturday morning business meeting. The annual business meetings are important, and this one was especially so, because we addressed one of our organization’s major problems, declining membership. By changing our membership rules to include the VWIL alumnae in the ranks of the SMA Alumni Association, we have allowed our organization to grow and continue to foster the ideals of Truth, Duty, and Honor far into the future. I personally feel this change will offer advantages to both groups, the SMA alumni and the VWIL alumnae.

As I reflect upon my own life on the Hill, I am very proud of a photo hanging in the SMA Museum of the 1961 Virginia Military League Football Champions, a group of boys who pulled together to be undefeated and only have 6 points scored on their defense in military league play. Those young men grew and worked together to win their championship as a team. There is another photo (see July-August 2009 Kablegram) that also makes me proud to be an SMA old boy; it is a picture from our 2009 reunion of a group of young women in uniform, surrounding an SMA “Old Boy”. It makes me proud, because of what we have accomplished as a team to help the ladies of VWIL.

By the way, THEY HAVE ASKED ME TO THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR YOUR HELP AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO VWIL. In return, they will help SMA, the Hill, and us Old Boys to be remembered. They already carry on our traditions, our Flag, and our History. As a result of this membership change, they will carry on our alumni association, too.

Thank you very much,

February 2009

“At Ease . . .”

… These are the nicest words ever spoken to me at mess. I look forward to saying them to you at our Saturday morning business session in April.

Gentlemen, we are getting closer to the 2009 Reunion. We have been informed that the Stonewall Jackson has been sold out. Nice job! This the first time I can remember that happening so soon. The “old boys” deserve an “Atta Boy” for this one (or better yet, a merit!). This just makes me believe that the SMA Alumni Association continues to get stronger, even with the passing of many of our friends and classmates.

There will be an Alumni meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning (April 18th) at the Stonewall Jackson. A very large number of “old boys” attended last year, and we need to see you again. Many new things must be addressed by you, the Alumni. Keep in mind that although the Board of Directors is tasked by you (our Alumni) to carry on the SMA legacy, you as individuals will be given the job of voting on our major proposals. The board can lead, but you must make the major decisions. One thing I feel is important to our SMA legacy is that we renew our “pledge” to each other and to VWIL and their Cadets. Do we still have that same burning desire to help them accomplish their dreams? Do we still have the same drive needed to work with them and to help and influence them in the Future? The time has come to help VWIL grow and also keep our SMA legacy growing. Please attend this meeting on Saturday; we need you there to ensure that the SMA Alumni Association is still a force to be reckoned with, now and in the future.

It has been my distinct pleasure to watch the previous efforts put forth by our alumni to help the VWIL cadets enjoy the same traditions and opportunities that we experienced at the Hill with our classmates and teammates. Hopefully, the future for all of us can be brighter, and the SMA legacy can continue to grow in both Corps, SMA and VWIL.

Harry W. Bruckno, SMA ’62
President, SMAAA

June 2008

An Expression of Gratitude

This spring, my message is one of gratitude.

It’s time to thank all of you “Old Boys” for coming to our 2008 reunion. We set a new record for attendance, and your interest in SMA Alumni activity has grown tremendously. I want to send a special “thank you” to all of you that got up early on Saturday morning and attended the annual business meeting. The business meeting is very important to us, because it is the place where we discuss and decide the larger issues, whether new or existing. This year, attendance doubled; the room was almost filled to capacity!

Your interest in the tasks being worked by this organization is laudable. I also want to congratulate all of the members of our Board of Directors for the excellent job they have done and will continue to do in the years to come. They have worked with great determination and commitment to keep the SMA Alumni Association strong and growing. If you consider our limited membership, this is really quite an accomplishment. The board members consistently devote their time (and sometimes their personal fortunes) to support our organization and they also find ways to approach the new problems (or opportunities, if you will)
that face our Alumni Association and the Virginia Women’s Institute of Leadership (VWIL) at Mary Baldwin College.

With the continued support of you “Old Boys” (by paying dues and making contributions), we can ensure that our valued SMA traditions will be carried forward into the future by the VWIL Corps of Cadets. You saw the VWIL Corps in action this April, working hard to make sure that our 2008 reunion was one that we could remember with pride. The Pass in Review, the Howie Rifles exhibition, and the Taps ceremony were all performed for you, the “Old Boys” from SMA. The VWIL Corps does this every year in a way of expressing their appreciation for your support of their mission. It is their way of saying “Thank You”.

Harry W. Bruckno, SMA ’62
President, SMAAA

February 2008

Come Back! Savor the Opportunities!

October 2007

When I attended the April 14, 2007 meeting of the Board of Directors in Staunton, I did not have any reason to believe that I would, in just a few months, assume the presidency of our organization. However, as we all know, life is full of surprises. I stepped into the leadership role in August 2007 when Mr. Litzenburg became ill and could not effectively continue as the president of the SMA Alumni Association.

My time at Staunton Military Academy was brief – just one year on the varsity football team. But short as it was, it was long in terms of experiences and friendships that have endured the many years since and given me a keen appreciation of what SMA did for me.

My first official responsibility as president came in late August when our alumni sponsored a picnic for the returning upperclass VWIL cadets, and I felt a need to address the group. I told the cadets that only the leadership had changed, and reiterated that everything that the association and the Board of Directors had establish as goals and programs would be continued through 2007 and 2008.

Is there anything else I would like to accomplish? Yes! I would like to see a more generous response to our annual request for dues payments. For the past several years, approximately 600 alumni have paid the $50.00 dues. Since we have 3,000 registered alumni, the number of members paying dues is proportionately small – just one sixth. Our dues income pays for SMA Alumni Office operations, our Alumni Secretary’s time and talent, and production and distribution of The Kablegram. It seems a bit unfair to ask approximately 600 alumni to pay for the services that all 3,000+ registered alumni receive.

There will likely be a few other innovations during my tenure. For the moment, however, I believe the best thing we can do is voice our support for our past president, and continue the programs that the Board of Directors established. We have a great organization and good people who are committed to perpetuation of the SMA legacy.

Let’s make sure their dedication and loyalty are recognized and utilized to our association’s maximum benefit.

Harry W. Bruckno, SMA `62
President, SMAAA

August 2007

Fellow Alumni:

I have been privileged to serve as your president for the last three years.While I fully intended to continue for another term, my health has mandated otherwise. I am sorry to inform you that duringthe past several months I have been diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer.This will be overcome.All of you know me as one who has a lot of fight in him and my doctors tell me I can easily win this battle to.

I have stepped down as president and have asked our capable vice president, Harry Bruckno, SMA ’62, to take on the duties of president, with assurance that he will have constant communication from me, from Thomas A Davis, SMA ’62, our treasurer and will enjoy the advice and counsel of the SMA Alumni Association Board of Directors. I can not image anyone in our organization more capable of handling the presidential responsibilities.

In myreduced capacity, I will continue to handle the Kablegram with help from a number of competent alumni and Colonel Dennis Case, who we all know is a magnificent writer and editor. I also have handled the 2007-2008 annual fund drive that has already appeared in your mail box.I would like to once again emphasize how critically important this annual fund drive is to our association and our foundation.I sincerely hope that you will continue to support it as you have in the past.

There are now twenty members on the Board of Directors. That list of members will appear in the August-September isPersonNamesue of the Kablegram.Please give them your full support.Also, in need of your support is Mrs. Arlene Nicely, our very dedicated and loyal Alumni Secretary.I have found that if there is a question to be answered, either she can answer it or no one can.

I will try to keep in touch with you, in the mean time feel free to call me (703) 860-8052 or email me at All communications regarding the SMA Alumni Association should be directed to the Alumni Secretary.

God bless you all for your thoughts and prayers.April 2008 will be the 50th anniversary of my graduation,I WILL BE THERE!!

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
Past-President, SMAAA

Third Year
Still Running Strong

February 2007

I am now halfway through my third year as president of the SMA Alumni Association, a job that has presented many challenges and offered periodic rewards. It has been as close to a full time vocation as one can imagine, and one that I have for the most part enjoyed.

Whether I continue in this post after this August is a decision that the membership and the Board of Directors will make at the annual reunion in April in Staunton. While I can say that we have accomplished a great deal in two-and-a-half years, there is certainly much more to be done.

Leading our organization requires a constant dedication, a willingness to listen and respond, communicate, maintain relationships, and have a spouse who is willing to not only tolerate the long hours of work that the president puts in, but to become involved herself. I have enormous respect and appreciation for the support and involvement that my wife Jo Ann has given me throughout my tenure.

No leader could ask for a better Board of Directors than the one thatguides the SMA Alumni Association. These dedicated gentlemen provide the level of enthusiastic support, critique and wisdom that a president needs to achieve success and continue to perpetuate the SMA legacy. The support from the Board of Directors deserves far more recognition than I can provide in this limited space. Thank you, one and all.

We have spent the past nine months working toward a record-setting reunion this year. As of February 2007, the attendance log reveals more than 100 alumni returning to the “Hill” in April. Much of this has been accomplished through networking by members of various classes who have taken the time and effort to contact and encourage others from their classes. Some are returning because of their experiences at our most recent reunions. No matter what the reason for your attendance, you will find the 2007 reunion to be one of the most memorable events in your later life.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

Reunion 2007
The Spirit Lives On

By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

December 2006

The 2007 reunion, “The Spirit Lives On!”, is gathering momentum beyond our expectations. We blocked 80 rooms at the historic and now renovated Stonewall Jackson Hotel, only this week to learn that all the rooms have been reserved by SMA alumni planning to attend the April 13-14 reunion.

Fortunately, we were able to block an additional 30 rooms at the Hampton Inn. The current issue of The Kablegram also provides a list of alternative locations in the Staunton area where rooms can be found. We strongly recommend that you make your reservations

The construction on the exterior walls outside the SMA-VWIL Museum has been completed, eliminating the problem we have experienced with water leaks. The walls will be painted in the Spring and lettering installed prior to the reunion. The Museum Committee will soon take on the challenge of determining how to effectively expand the museum to twice its present size. While this project is unlikely to be completed by the time of the reunion, enough will be done to give visiting alumni an idea of how the project will progress throughout 2007.

Response to our requests for dues payments and contributions this year have been good. Nevertheless, we are hoping that more members of the SMA Alumni Association will step up and acknowledge the need for consistent funding so that those programs we have – including The Kablegram, the Alumni Office, the Alumni Secretary, and the SMA-VWIL Museum -will continue to have the support they need. I encourage you to take a few moments to write your dues check today, and add to it what you feel is an appropriate contribution.

We continue to see increases in our membership, which now stands at 3,190, despite the loss each year of 40 to 50 “old boys”. There appears to be a lot of networking happening between former friends and classmates, and that has resulted in increases in association registrations.

Please take the time to go to the “SMA Reunion” page on this website and read through the schedule of events and other information there. We look forward to seeing many of you in April.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

We’ve Made Progress
No Time to Rest on Our Laurels

By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

July 2006

Considerable progress had already been achieved when, two years ago, I stepped into the presidency. My predecessors have done an exceptional job and I found myself with large shoes to fill. Attempting to do so has been both a challenge and a rewarding experience.

We have maintained a level of 3,200 members despite the loss of some of our friends and classmates. Dues income has increased slightly over the past two years, yet less than one third of our registered alumni members actually pay their dues.

Many of our recent reunions have been memorable. The events in 2005 and 2006 set a new benchmark, with 88 alumni attending in 2005 and 92 in 2006. Future reunions promise to be even better, with more involvement by our alumni and generous support from VWIL.

As this issue of The Kablegram goes to press, our SMA-VWIL Museum Committee is meeting to decide the best way to make use of the additional space that has been granted us by placePlaceNameMary PlaceNameBaldwin PlaceTypeCollege. This is an important step in perpetuating the legacy of SMA.

In April 2004, Bill Kearns handed Dr. Brenda Bryant and Brig. Gen. Michael Bissell a check for $20,000 and pledged that the SMA Alumni Association would provide $50,000 a year for discretionary use as long as we could. That pledge was fulfilled by April 2005, and filled again by April 2006, each year through the SMA-VWIL Initiative.

Through the Initiative, your association has opened many opportunities for the Corps of Cadets, including new flags, trips to seminars, leadership retreats, travel to placeStateNew York for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and to placeCityWilliamsburg for the Inaugural Parade, and an intercom system between dormitories and the VWIL office. This is but a small sampling of benefits the SMA-VWIL Initiative has provided.

VWIL cadets have enjoyed the benefits of a series of annual scholarships funded by Hunter W., Henry, Jr., SMA `46 and the SMA Alumni Association. Other tuition assistance grants have been provided when the circumstances warranted and our help was requested.

Recently, we completed a program that resulted in placing furniture and computers in seven areas of VWIL that were set aside for cadet offices and conference rooms, accomplished through private donations.

Without the enthusiastic support of the SMA Alumni Association Board of Directors, always there when I needed help and guidance, none of our accomplishments would have seen the light of day. You – our alumni – should be very proud of those you elected to guide our organization.

There is no time to rest on our laurels. There is more to be done. The museum expansion is high on the list of projects, as is the Scholarship Fund, the SMA-VWIL Initiative, and locating more and more alumni and bringing them on board.

I hope you will respond to the annual dues and contribution mailing that you should by now have received. Your dues and donations keep the SMA Alumni Association and the SMA Foundation afloat and give us the means with which we can continue to grow and see progress.

As you know, those of who serve on the Board of Directors are only the caretakers of your association. Thank you for your financial support. Thank you for your periodic messages of encouragement, your feedback and suggestions, and your involvement. We could not do it without your help!

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

Reconnect, Remember, Renew
By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

February 2006

In just one short month, Staunton Military Academy alumni from all across our country – Puerto Rico included – will gather in Staunton for yet another opportunity to reconnect, remember, renew old friendships and create new ones, and walk again on ground that some have not seen or touched in 50 years.

Those who have attended recent reunions understand the emotions of a return to the “hill”. Those who participate this year will be treated to the same enlightenment that many of us have experienced – the visit to our excellent joint SMA-VWIL Museum, the barbecue and dance in the Mess Hall that we all remember so well, the ceremony of remembrance at the Memorial Wall, and again being a part of a parade on Kable Field and being honored by those who now carry our flag and have followed in our footsteps.

Alumni who have attended the annual gatherings in Staunton have gone home with a sincere respect for the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) Corps of Cadets. These young women are not just students. They are intelligent, talented, poised, professional and dedicated cadets who know exactly who they are and what their career paths will be. They are determined to reach their goals. Some will commission in the United States Armed Forces, while others will move on to successful careers in education, government and private enterprise.

Our annual reunions are important to the VWIL Corps of Cadets. The parade and frequent interaction between cadets and alumni provides the members of the corps with an opportunity to show us – SMA alumni from all walks of life – that the traditions we established and carried forward are being continued with pride and respect.

For the first time in many years, we will return to a place we all knew – the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, which has been restored to its original grandeur. Our Saturday business meeting and our annual reunion banquet will be held there.

Our banquet speaker, U.S. Army Captain Erinn Hopkins, VWIL `02, is accutely aware of the importance of spending four years in the academic and military program at VWIL, the history and traditions of SMA, and the impact that the SMA Alumni Association has had on the program and the corps. Her profile is under the “Then and Now”feature in the Feb 2006 issue of the Kablegram, preceded by a profile of Colonel Brooke F. Read, SMA `46.

Some alumni will find their way to old haunts, with the most popular of these being Marino’s, which is still in business at the same location and much the same as the last time you were there. Downtown Staunton looks much as it did throughout the years, and offers a pleasant tour by trolley or just walking West Beverly Street.

Take the time now to send in your reunion registration and make your reservations. Returning to the “hill” will be an experience you will remember for many years to come.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

New Challenges and Goals
By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

December 2005

With 2005 coming to a close, we can look back on this year and be proud of the good we have done, both in the help we have provided to the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) and in the efforts to perpetuate our legacy. The new year brings new challenges and several specific goals.

One of these goals is to increase the SMA Alumni Association Scholarship Fund to the $50,000 level, thus making it a perpetual $2,500 annual award to a worthy VWIL cadet. If you need motivation to participate in this effort, take time to read the open letter to SMA alumni on page 6 of the December Kablegram from Dr. Brenda Bryant, Director of VWIL. Her letter, combined with our commentary, should clear up any lingering doubts that the program is becoming more important as something significant our association can do to make a difference.

Another goal is the SMA-VWIL Museum. Brocky A. Nicely, SMA `65 has devoted endless hours to making the museum a treasure trove of SMA memorabilia. We need to focus on making sure that the facility is funded, staffed, maintained – and expanded when the opportunity allows that to happen. We encourage you to visit the museum when you are in the vicinity of Staunton. Yet another goal is to have the best and biggest reunion that we have ever enjoyed. See page 13 of the December Kablegram for details. We hope you will plan now to attend and send in your registration and make your room reservations at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

As always, your enthusiastic support and help is sincerely appreciated. This is your association and your legacy. We value your feedback and ask that you continue to provide it.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

We Are Making a Difference!
By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

October 2005

The Staunton Military Academy Alumni Association and the SMA Foundation are alive and well! This year has been a banner period for our organization. We have more than 3,000 registered members. Our financial posture is sound and shows promise of improving in 2006 and beyond, thanks to diligence by our treasurer, Thomas A. Davis, III, SMA ’62. More and more alumni are communicating with us and becoming involved in our projects and goals.

The SMA-VWIL Museum, located in the former SMA Supply Room, continues to improve under the leadership of Brocky A. Nicely, SMA ’65. And thanks to Mark J. Orr, SMA ’73, our website remains a constant source of news and information for our membership. The Kablegram, published four times every year, has developed into a communication tool between the association and our members, between the association and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL), and between individual alumni. Our Alumni Secretary, Arlene Nicely, is always available to assist you. Just contact her by e-mail or telephone.

For 18 months we have focused in part on the SMA-VWIL Initiative, a special account designed to provide discretionary funds to VWIL. To date, we have presented the program with more than $50,000, with another $10,000 yet to be passed on. Additionally, Hunter W. Henry, Jr., SMA ’46 provides two $2,500 scholarships annually, and converted a third scholarship to a cash grant that yields $10,000 a year to VWIL for discretionary use.

The SMA Alumni Association provides an annual $1,000 Leadership Scholarship to a cadet selected by the VWIL administration. Our goal for this year is to increase the base funding for that scholarship to a point where it will be a perpetual $2,500 annual award.This means we are seeking contributions totalling $19,400 to close the gap between the current fund balance of $30,614 and the goal of $50,000 by April 2006.

The past several reunions have been extraordinary, with close to 100 alumni returning for the parade march-on, barbecue and dance, business meeting and banquet. The 2006 reunion will be held April 7-8, headquartered at the newly renovated Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton. Those who remember the “old days” at this Staunton landmark will be highly impressed with what has been done to recreate the atmosphere of the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s.

If you are not a registered member, please take the time to do so today, using this website. If you are a member and wish to become more involved, contact me through the e-mail address provided. If you have an item for The Kablegram, you can send it along through the e-mail address provided herein. We look forward to seeing you at the 2006 reunion and encourage you to keep in touch with the association and your former classmates.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

Meeting and Listening is Believing!
By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

December 2004

Not until I attended the 2004 reunion did I have an opportunity to see the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) Corps of Cadets. I had read the stories in The Kablegram and heard glowing comments from many alumni. However, I did not acquire a true appreciation of what was happening on the former SMA campus until I visited myself, saw the Corps of Cadets and met a few students. I was quite impressed!

As it turns out, that weekend was just the beginning of my enlightenment. I returned in May for the Change of Command Review, accompanied by members of the Board of Directors, and we again spent time talking with members of the corps.

In October, we attended the Family Weekend review, at the conclusion of which we were introduced to the Corps Command Staff and other senior corps officers and a few undergraduate cadets. It was at that point that I made a commitment to try to meet as many cadets as possible before the school year ends in May of next year.

These young women are part of the future of our country. For instance: Cadet Captain Megan Ziegert, the 2004 recipient of the Henry Scholarship Honoring SMA, will commission in the U.S. Air Force in May 2005 and become an Air Battle Manager. First Captain Mei Ling Fye, the 2003 SMA Alumni Association Leadership Scholarship recipient, will accept a commission in the U. S. Army, in either aviation or military intelligence.

Other cadets I met, some of whose names I regret to say I cannot remember, will begin careers as teachers, military lawyers, clinical psychologists (see the separate “Then and Now” profile feature in this issue), and a broad spectrum of professions. Some will remain in the military and distinguish themselves as have their predecessors in recent years.
VWIL cadets are focused, confident, and disciplined. Not only are they loyal to their own school and traditions, but they clearly have a sense of the legacy and traditions they are perpetuating on behalf of Staunton Military Academy.

My conclusion, gentlemen of the SMA Alumni Association, is that while our school is closed, the legacy and traditions are very much alive! The gender of the Corps of Cadets has changed, and a few buildings are gone, but the history and traditions are being preserved.

When the Corps of Cadets parades or the VWIL Color Guard participates in a ceremony, our SMA flag is prominent along with the United States flag, the Virginia state flag and the VWIL flag. Parade narrators tell the visitors why it is carried and provide a brief history of SMA and why our colors are included.

The SMA Alumni Association owes a great deal of gratitude to Dr. Brenda Bryant, VWIL Director, and Brig. Gen. Michael Bissell, VWIL Commandant, for their consistent efforts to insure that the traditions are maintained and our legacy is perpetuated. They have been diligent year after year in building a corps comprised of some of America’s best and brightest young women, educating them and sending them out into the world well prepared for whatever they encounter or aspire to achieve.

I encourage all alumni to seriously consider returning to the “Hill” in April 2005 and see for yourselves. Those who have done so in recent years have gone home enlightened and impressed.

The 2005 reunion (April 1-2) will provide several planned opportunities for returning SMA alumni to meet members of the Corps of Cadets and gain a better understanding of what motivates these young women.

Before and after the SMA-VWIL Review on Friday, April 1, you might want to introduce yourselves to a few cadets and ask about their academics and their career aspirations. There will also be an opportunity at the Saturday evening dinner for you to get to know a select group of the Corps of Cadets leadership, and for them to better understand your loyalty to SMA. I encourage you to return to SMA in April 2005 and join us for the reunion, and see how the traditions are still very much alive.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ’58
President, SMAAA

It Was a Truly Great Reunion!
By Dave Litzenburg, SMA ’58

September 2004

The SMA Alumni Association’s annual reunion was held the first weekend of April and was an outstanding event attended by 88 alumni, plus their guests and a number of faculty and staff. It was an opportunity to observe the Corps of Cadets of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL), renew old friendships and make new ones. Mary Baldwin College has a main campus enrollment of under 1000 students and over 130 are enrolled in VWIL. There are firm plans for this number to grow in the future. We continue to be impressed by the quality of the young women in the program who are seriously preparing for leadership roles in both their communities and our Armed Forces. The SMA Alumni were honored with a parade. It was a memorable experience to see such outstanding cadets, on the same parade field where generations of SMA cadets drilled, participated in sports and learned lessons that would serve our country in peace and conflict, carry on our traditions with pride and enthusiasm. The VWIL cadets carry the SMA flag in their color guard; it was their decision to do so and we are profoundly grateful. They are worthy successors to our beloved campus and we can all be confident that Staunton Military Academy’s long and honorable history is serving as an important part of the foundation and education of every VWIL cadet.

In recent years a group of highly motivated SMA alumni established the SMA/VWIL museum and in the process established a close friendship between Mary Baldwin and SMA. During this year our board will continue to explore ways to increase our association with the VWIL program and establish programs to help VWIL with their Corps of Cadets through scholarship funding and the SMA-VWIL Initiative. We will also continue to make the SMA-VWIL Museum a showcase of history for our alumni and those who attend and graduate from VWIL.

The next reunion will be April 1-2, 2005 in Staunton, and promises to be a great one. I encourage you to attend and reconnect with your friends and former classmates. If you are not registered with the SMA Alumni Association, please use this website to add your name and contact information to the list of alumni across the world. By doing so, you will receive the quarterly Kablegram and be kept in touch with the association and our various activities.

C. David Litzenburg, SMA ‘58
President, SMAAA

An Impressive Event!
By Bill Kearns, SMA ’74

August 2003

The SMA Alumni Association’s annual reunion was held the first weekend of March and was an outstandingevent.It was my first opportunityto observe the Corps of Cadets of the VWIL Program and I was profoundly impressed. Mary Baldwin College has a main campus enrollment of under 1000 students and over 130 are enrolledin VWIL. There are firm plans for this number to grow in the future. I was struck by the quality of the youngwomen intheprogram who are seriously preparing for leadership roles in both their communities and our Armed Forces. There are currently 22 VWILgraduates deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq as junior officers. The SMA Alumni were honored by VWIL with a parade.It was a thrilling experience to see such outstanding cadets, on the same parade field where generations of SMA cadets drilled, participated in sports and learned lessons that would serve our country in peace and conflict, carry on our traditions with pride and enthusiasm. The VWIL cadets carry the SMA flag in their color guard;it was their decisionto do so andweare profoundly grateful.They are worthy successors to our belovedcampus and we can all be confident that Staunton Military Academy’s long and honorable history is serving as an important part of the foundation of The Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership.

In recent years a group of highly motivated SMA alumni established the SMA/VWIL museum and in the process established a close friendship between MaryBaldwin and SMA.During this year our board will explore waystoincrease our association with the VWIL program and has appointed Gene Ehmann (74) to chair a committee tasked with securing the museums financial future and to establish a program to help MaryBaldwin Collegewiththeir Corps of Cadets.I want to encourage all of you to attend the reunion.I cannot begin to describethe pleasure you will experience marching with the VWIL cadets on your parade field.

President, SMAAA

VWIL Needs Our Help!
By Bill Kearns, SMA ’74

January 2003

Fellow Old Boys,

VWIL needs our help!

Due to a severe budget crunch in state government, the governor of Virginia has proposed eliminating several sources of revenue which, if enacted, will have a negative impact on the VIWL program, and could possibly force its closure.

We don’t want that to happen. Our relationship with Mary Baldwin College, fostered through and thanks in large part to the leadership at VWIL, has been mutually beneficial and we want that to continue.

To help restore this funding, the SMA Alumni Association officers are asking you to send emails and/or letters to the governor and members of the General Assembly of Virginia, asking them to restore this critical funding. The following legislators need to be contacted: Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Chichester, House Finance Committee Chairman Harry Parrish, Senate Education and Health Committee Chairman H. Russell Potts Jr. and House Education Committee Chairman James Dillard. In addition here are the state legislators representing Staunton: Sen. R. Steven Landes and Del. Emmett W. Hanger. You can obtain contact information for these key lawmakers at

Additionally, if you reside in Virginia, please contact your local legislators and ask them to support this effort. You can use the “Who’s my legislator?” link at this site, to find out who your legislator is if you don’t already know.

Gov. Mark Warner can be contacted via this link:

I’ve included a draft letter (see below) that you can adapt and use in contacting state officials.

If you have any questions about this initiative, please contact Past President Tom Phillips SMA ’74, at, or call 202-434-4813. If convenient, please send a copy of your letters to Tom via email or fax to 732-590-6750, so we’ll have a record of our efforts.

For information on VWIL:

Thanks, very much, in advance for your help in preserving this outstanding educational program.

Truth, Duty, Honor.
Bill Kearns SMA ’74
President, SMAAA

P.S. For good measure, feel free to write U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who represents Staunton and let him know that we want this funding restored for VWIL:


Dear (insert elected member’s name):

I’m writing you to ask for your support in restoring funding for the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton.
As you may know, VWIL is a unique program – it is the only all-female cadet corps in the nation. VWIL offers a comprehensive, four-year program that gives women an unparalleled opportunity to complement their college education with disciplined military and physical training that drives ambition, builds confidence and instills leadership skills and a sense of duty and pride in serving one’s community and country.

Since its founding in 1995, enrollment in the VWIL program has increased steadily. Today there are 131 students in the cadet corps; 45 (36 percent) are minority women. Among graduates to date, 40 percent serve in the armed forces all over the world, 12 percent work in law and government, 10 percent are involved in health care and social services, and 12 percent work in education.

The VWIL Corps of Cadets has marched in the inauguration parades of Virginia’s last two governors, and the list of dignitaries that have visited VWIL include U.S. Congressmen, the Air Force Chief of Staff, deputy assistant secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, and a female astronaut.

As an alumnus of Staunton Military Academy, I support this program completely. When my school closed in 1976, Mary Baldwin College purchased the old SMA campus. Our alumni association has supported VWIL since its inception; in fact, we raised funds for an opened a joint SMA-VWIL museum on the campus in 2001.

I realize the Commonwealth faces a serious budget and funding crisis. But I appeal to you to reinstitute the educational programs that support VWIL (and the Corps at VPI). Without this funding, the future of this dynamic and growing program will be put at serious jeopardy.

Thank you very much for your consideration in this important matter.

With Warm Regards,
(your name here)

Pride in our Progress
By Bill Kearns, SMA ’74

November 2002

Dear Fellow Alumni,

Much has been written in these pages regarding the SMA-VWIL museum and it is truly impressive. I visited SMA during the July reunion and attended the memorial wall dedication. We can all be proud that this memorial to our great school has been created. As I stood in the museum during the cermeony, I was overwhelmed with pride in the alumni that so selflessly made this project a reality. Our school has been closed for over 25 years, yet her cadets came together and demonstrated the values and dedication to duty that were SMA’s hallmark. They validated everything the Academy stood for and I am profoundly grateful the legacy has been preserved.

The Association has a bright future and we are looking forward to increased attendance at the reunion. The new dates (4-6 April 2003) will give us the opportunity to enjoy our partnership with Mary Baldwin College and the VWIL program. I am confident that having the reunion in April will serve to strengthen our commitment to support VWIL as our successors on the “Hill.”

During the reunion we learned that First Sergeant Graham was hospitalized and would be unable to attend. Mrs. Graham was kind enough to invite several alumni to visit him and we enjoyed it very much. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

I would like to encourage the alumni to remember the Colonel Robert W. Wease Chair in Government and Economics at Fishburne Military School. I had the pleasure of speaking with Colonel Wease at the reunion banquet in July and am personally looking forward to individually contributing to this fund. He is the epitome of a gentleman scholar who has demonstrated a sincere love of his students for nearrly 50 years.

The Association is on firm footing with a very dedicated group of able and committed alumni willing to accept new challenges and set and attain worthwhile goals. This is an inclusive organization and we welcome new volunteers. Please consider becoming actively involved in the Association. You will find it rewarding to work with such an outstanding group of individuals. I know I do.

Bill Kearns, ’74
President, SMAAA

Reflections From The Hill

By Tom Phillips SMA `74

June 1, 2002

Fellow Old Boys:

To honor the fallen.

When we gather on the last weekend in July for the 2002 SMA Annual Reunion and meeting, there will be 99 members of the Corps absent. The reason they will not be with us is not because they chose not to attend, but because they could not attend. They are gone. But they will be with us in spirit, and we will recognize them by their names on the SMA Memorial Wall.

I know they gave their lives for our country so that we could be in Staunton to see old friends … so that their families could be anywhere they wanted to be on a Saturday afternoon … so that I could live free.

One Saturday in April, fellow board member Mark Orr `73 (a retired Navy officer, by the way) and I spent some time at the SMA-VWIL Museum checking the school records of the Old Boys who had died during the wars this nation has fought. “Killed in action in France” was on one of them. “Killed in action in South Korea” on another. It was a moving experience to see these names, think of their sacrifice, and acknowledge that people at SMA over the years had taken the time to annotate their records.

Over the years, we have watched our friends and former roommates age as life takes its toll on our bodies. But for these 99 young men, they will be remembered as forever young. Look at their yearbook pictures, and you will see the faces of the young men who died in uniform for something they believed in.

Join me in July at SMA. The corps that you and I were a part of has a proud heritage. We have earned it through work, achievement, caring for others, and with our blood. Together, we will celebrate the living, share memories and honor the dead. You will laugh, and you will probably cry. And you’ll be glad you came.

Truth, Duty, Honor.
Tom Phillips, ’74
SMA Alumni Association

Reflections From The Hill

By Tom Phillips SMA `74

February 15, 2002

Fellow Old Boys:

Now less than six months away, our 2002 Annual Meeting and Reunion will be held July 26-28 in Staunton; our headquarters hotel will again be the Holiday Inn. Of course, it is always fun to gather with old friends, catch up on the past year, and relive old SMA stories and adventures. Among the activities in store for attendees, we’ll again honor SMA’s founder by placing a wreath at the Kable family plot in Thornrose Cemetery, and we will of course have our annual banquet on Saturday evening.

This year’s special event will be the dedication of the SMA Memorial Wall, which will honor those from our Corps who gave their lives for their country during military service in time of war. Thanks in large part to these young men who made the ultimate sacrifice; we are able to live as a free people and to gather at events such as these. I am reminded of the verse from St. John: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It will be my privilege to honor these men – Old Boys who never came home from war — I hope that, if for no other reason than to attend this ceremony on July 27, you will join me at the reunion this year.

Of course, a visit to Staunton will give everyone the chance to visit our SMA-VWIL Museum, which has been running great thanks to the efforts of our Staunton-area board members (Brocky Nicely, John Hooser and Stu Smith from nearby Massanutten), our staff folks (Fred and Doris Thompson) and the VWIL Corps volunteers who staff the facility during its operating hours from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (thanks to VWIL Commandant BG Mike Bissell for coordinating this effort).

One opportunity we all have to make the museum as attractive as possible is to help fund it through the purchase of a special commemorative brick for the SMA Walk of Honor along the SMA Memorial Wall site. For $50 per brick paver, any alumnus can leave a message for all to see. The AMA alumni in Ft. Defiance have done a great job with this at their museum. During visits there, I have read many of the messages the cadets have sent via the brick pavers. They range from thank yous to teachers and coaches, to touching acknowledgements of sacrifice parents made to send their children to the school.

And finally, I wanted to mention the SMA Alumni Association Leadership Scholarship. For the past three years we have been able to award a $1,000 scholarship to a junior class VWIL cadet who exhibits strong leadership qualities, high academic standards and who is committed to completion of one of the ROTC programs.

Our goal is to raise enough money for the scholarship to become self-funding. We want to increase the funding from the current $9,200 to $25,000 this year and ultimately to $50,000, at which point the scholarship will sustain itself and assist at least one deserving cadet each year with a $2,500 scholarship.

I realize there are many opportunities we all face each day to help worthy causes, but I ask you to consider a tax-deductible contribution to the Leadership Scholarship as another example of our commitment to preserve the SMA legacy. One generous, yet anonymous alumnus already has provided a challenge to match up to $5,000 in contributions. If we meet that challenge, we will be well on the way to building a perpetual scholarship.

As always, I welcome your input and involvement in our activities. Take a few minutes to visit our outstanding new web site (thank you Mark Orr, ’73) at, and send me an email at

Truth, Duty, Honor.
Tom Phillips, ’74
SMA Alumni Association

October 19, 2001

Fellow Old Boys:

When I sat down to write this note to you, more than a month had passed since the SMA Reunion. I was still reliving the good moments – and there were many.

Then came Sept. 11.

Perhaps as it is with those who’ve experienced combat, when terrorism hits you in the face it changes your outlook on many things. For all the evil and horror that has played out on the TV screen since that day, I bet it made millions pause and take a minute to think about what’s really important in their lives.

From what we know, no SMA alumni died in the tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. My company lost one employee in the World Trade Center – a 37-year-old husband and father. No doubt, there are many of us who know others that were affected by the tragedies.

As December 7, 1941, was to a younger America, Sept. 11, 2001, was a wake-up call. Jefferson never spoke truer words than we he said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Among many other things, I now make a special point of cherishing time with family and friends, including SMA.

That’s all I have to say about that, so I’ll continue with my reunion recap.

From the opening night supper to the Saturday banquet to Sunday, I think most of us had a pretty good time. The highlight of the event, no doubt, was the dedication of the SMA-VWIL Museum. Though rain forced us into the Mess Hall, it did not dampen our spirits. At long last, 25 years after the last cadet graduated from our academy, SMA is back on the Hill and we have something tangible – a museum – that serves as a legacy to the institution that binds us all. We owe a great deal of thanks to those cadets – the Plank Owners of the museum (see the list of names in this newsletter)- and to all those who came through with their contributions when we asked for them. And we delivered. Be sure to read Hunter Henry’s article in this issue of the Kablegram.

I also enjoyed tremendously the wreath-laying ceremony at Thornrose Cemetery. A long time coming, we finally paid tribute to the man who founded SMA, Capt. William H. Kable. By all accounts, he was an outstanding human being, and we owe him our respect and admiration. Coincidentally, of the seven color guard members who volunteered from a local group of Confederate reenactors and participated in the ceremony, three of them were SMA graduates. This, I am sure, pleased Capt. Kable’s spirit. And it was great to have Capt. Kable’s great granddaughter, Page Kable Bonfoey, join us and participate in the ceremony.

I want to thank Col. Mal Livick, the former superintendent of Augusta Military Academy, for being our reunion banquet speaker. Recently retired from Blue Ridge Community College, Mal has spent much of his life helping educate and prepare America’s youth for adulthood, and he is one of my favorite people. His heartfelt and often humorous remarks entertwined the histories of SMA and AMA, and entertained us all. And lastly, I want to thank the members of my class, the Class of 1974, and one member of the Class of 1975 who attended the reunion; several of them serve with me on the Board. I am extremely proud of their achievements in life and appreciative of their gifts of time, talent and treasure to SMA. They have been friends for most of my life, and they are my brothers.

And now we move forward. We ere fortunate to recruit four new board members, including one who lives in Washington and two who live in the Staunton area (see related article in this newsletter). This is particularly important because of the ongoing need to manage our museum, and the importance of bringing “new blood” into the leadership and sharing the load. Your board has work to do, such as managing the museum, streamlining the organizational structure of the association and foundation, and working on funding in the face of a declining membership base. I look forward to serving again as your president, and my first request to you during this second term is to help your association by paying your dues!

Truth, Duty, Honor.
Tom Phillips, ’74
SMA Alumni Association