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20 January 2017


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William R. Cumming

Again the Institute will be at its best tomorrow. I donated a book signed by George and Katherine Marshall entitled "A Soldiers Wife" several years ago and hand delivered to the Librarian of the Marshall Library. I notice a informal formation developing and stopped and watched for a moment. Field dress, no Shakos. A Keydet came over and asked if I wanted a tour or anything else and had to decline. But I did ask how many VETS were now in the Institute. He said quite a few veterans of both Afghanistan and Iraq were now in attendance. Perhaps some were commissioned and returned to the front. Invaluable for any army to have competent "Mustangs" as some services call the up from the ranks commissioned officers. I wonder at the percentage of the Army and Marines today. Would be an interesting statistic. Reading David Halberstram's final book "The Coldest Winter" to refresh my knowledge of Korean War events. Battlefied commissions strongly in evidence in that one.

Maureen Lang

What a wonderful photo & article. I've found out since 1st reading this post some additional info from brother Pat regarding that day:

"It was incredibly cold and the slush scoured your shoes white and devoid of
We were given an award as the best marching unit in the parade, ahead
of the Old Guard and WP. "

I learned the lyrics of the VMI Fight Song Pat's freshman year when I was 9. Funny how some things really stick with you- can still sing along to this link:

frank durkee

Col. I was there on Penn. Ave watching in the office of a friend of mine in the Justice Dept Building. I was at the time 8 years out of College, with military service behind me and near the end of my Seminary training. I'd done some local neighbourhood work fot Kennedy. I remember being glad we were indoors. My former wife had a cousin, John White, from Waynesboro, virginia, who might still have been at VmI at the time. { this is a personal note, with no push to publish. Your choice. and thanks for your blog, it helps me cope with the craziness in our public media and world. }

Michael Chevalier

Was in the 6th grade and we watched the ceremony on TV in our classroom. Interestingly, it was perhaps a moment for a Catholic in somewhat the same flow as so many people of African and other heritage feel about seeing the president-elect become President Obama. I remember my father saying he did not believe our country would find its way to a Catholic being elected president.

I clearly remember the PT-109 crew going by on a float!


Charles I

What a wonderful country you have.

I'm trying to decide, as the conspiracy theorists have it, whether President Obama is a beard for the NWO types to implement government ownership of the economy - after bankrupting it of course, to create the need for intervention and paying out hundreds of billions in cash to themselves first, prior to depopulating the earth to marshal the resources needed to create a New Jerusalem in space for the Chosen Few when the planet is finally exhausted, but just for today and tomorrow, God Bless America.

You really are a beacon among nations.



As far as Mustang officers go, the best was Lieutenant General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, USMC. Halberstram mentions him several times in "Coldest Winter". A Virginia boy, he had completed his freshman year at VMI with zero demerits, and passing grades. But he dropped out to enlist along with 33 other cadets in the summer of 1918.

A Marine's Marine, he led from the front. On Pelelieu his regiment took high casualties and he took the blame for that from MacArthur fans after the war. But during that battle, he and his Regimental Forward CP were typically only 50 to 100 yards behind the front-line rifle companies. His men adored him. He remains the most decorated U.S. Marine in history. With five Navy Crosses and a Distinguished Service Cross from the Army, Puller received the nation's second highest military decoration a total of six times.

He has assumed the status of myth in the Corps. A portrait or photo of him hangs in every barracks, club, HQ building, training classroom, armory, motor pool or supply hut on every base in the Marine Corps. Army folks can argue for hours whether the greatest soldier was Washington, or Grant, or Jackson, or Pershing, or Marshall, or Patton, or whoever. No such disagreement exist in the Corps. Every Marine from private to Commandant knows that Chesty was and remains the greatest Marine that ever served.


" The "Occidental" restaurant still exists but it inhabits quarters on the lower floors of a large office building on the same site.". Do "statesmen", as in "where statesmen dine" still exist?

r martin

Is the band the Regimental Band of the VIrginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the Highty Tighties by any chance?


EVERYBODY must've dined at the Occidental - so cosmo & exotic! After Dad was retired out of the AF, we landed in DC between that Inaugural & the subsequent Assassination. My Mom, brother, & myself imposed on him to take us to dinner. Not enthused, yet he relented - I think the Havana post for Batista's last dance had soured that Okie on the striped pants set.

A little celebration of American polity is AOK.
Today, just as you marched that day, Col,
E Pluribus Unum.

Jon T.

Col. Lang, Good evening.
The United States Military Academy will attend 95 soldiers to Mr. Obama's Inauguration

As ever, with great respect for your service and others in our Armed Services and service academies. The young men and women I have met and worked briefly with at West Point are inspirational in their dedication, intelligence, clarity, strength, courage and perseverance at the start of their journey.
Jon Tupper
Cornwall on Hudson

p.s. on the photos and Physicians reports about killed little kids: I struggle not to be enraged (I am a school bus driver and take care of little kids) and to find some level way to be with the Israeli aggression. They deserve a place. Yes. So do the Palestinians. Can we encourage the Arab Plan's adoption before something egregious and regretible goes down?


R. Martin

That is the VPI Band and they played very well. pl

Michael Chevalier

RE: Mustangers

My spouse and I toured the U.S.S. New Jersey this past summer and, as we toured, I had a long conversation with a pair of sailors whose frigate was in port for the weekend. They were hull technicians.

They verified that the Navy was still employing the Warrant Officer in service, a very good thing. When I served, the WOs were what we would call the 'real sailors', running the deck crews with Bosun Mates, sometimes repair services and in propulsion.

We were always a little in awe of them, particularly when we were in blue water.


dilbert dogbert

Some time ago I read an interesting story about how the Navy sent a team of people to study how an aircraft carrier worked and their job was to produce and electronic manual of the regs covering the operations.
Their findings were that the WO's ran the ship with little help from the regs.
That was back before the days of links to the internet. Darn!


Colonel, was there any outward signs or feelings of disappointment from your classmates due to Kennedy's religion?



None whatever. pl


Col., thank you for sharing such a personal experience with the rest of us.

I bet you remember it like it was yesterday!!!

Michael Chevalier

MJ, very familiar with Chesty Puller. I did see his portrait in every Marine space I was in during my service. I do want to read Halberstam's book.

Dilbert D: I believe it. I really mean it when I say we saw them as 'the real sailors'. If you needed to know anything about the workings of the ship or what to do if it hit the fan, you went to them and no one else.


Cpl. Paul J. Grobski

I marched in the parade down Penn.Ave. and I stiil remember how cold it was that day.As a Marine we were so proud of how we looked in our dress blue uniforms but on that bitter cold day we had to wear our heavy green overcoats. We called them our horseblankets which indicates how heavy they were.(didnt help much)

Michael Kevin Murphy, VMI '64

I remember marching in President Kennedy's Inaugural Parade, up at 0300 to mount busses, froze my ass off in the parade. I remember Jerry Harbach, commanding officer of Co. "C" counting cadence as we just soldiered on in the cold. I commanded a rifle company in Vietnam seven or eight years later and used to tap into that memory when the heat and sweat got bad.



And now for the second Obama inaugural the VMI corps has been selected from so many applicants to be in the parade but also dead last in the order of march for the second time. Is there a message there? pl


Great stuff. My mother still talks about when her HS marching band (from Blackwell, Oklahoma) had the honor of marching in Ike's 2nd Inaugural Parade.


Dear Colonel,

Thank for this wonderful post. I was a product of the PLC program 30 years ago. When I arrived to the FMF, I was fortunate to have three VMI graduates in my battalion. I will never forget their friendship and guidance for the navigation of military life. They fostered in me a great and enduring respect for VMI. To this day, when ever by chance I meet a VMI man, I consider it an honor. There is no doubt in my mind, that VMI is the finest military school in history. Graduates of VMI such as yourself, are an integral asset in our never ending struggle for liberty and freedom. Long live VMI!

As far as being last again in this year's parade, let us say that the best are chosen to be the rear guard for a decisive movement.



David Habakkuk

“Monarchical claptrap”, eh?


David Habakkuk

Yes. I prefer Jefferson's approach which was to walk from his boarding house to the capitol to take the oath and then up a muddy Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House followed by a crowd of tradesmen and children. He also declined to address the Congress in person for the state of the Union saying it was too much like a speech from the throne. pl

Charles I

If there is, ignore it, surely for the VMI Corps today is about them rather than some malicious planner.

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