An unbreakable band of gold: Legacy cadets come full circle

The Citadel Photo

Attending the 177-year-old Military College of South Carolina is a family tradition that, for some, dates back generations. And with that comes a legacy of values and tradition that a pandemic could never change, despite the effect it’s had on commencement activities.

Graduation usually presents a special opportunity for cadets to receive their diplomas on stage from a parent or another close family member who is a Citadel graduate. But the meaning goes beyond simply being handed a diploma.

“My family has a long tradition of attending The Citadel, dating all the way back to 1932,” said Cadet Andrew Benton. “Being the 8th member of my family to graduate from The Citadel has helped me appreciate the institution’s purpose, history, and has made these last four years of my life incredibly special.”

Each legacy graduate was invited to submit photos of themselves, along with their legacy presenter.

“Ever since I was young I always looked at my father’s diploma and his ring with envy,” said Cadet Griffith Gaillard. “I remember wanting those things as a child and wanting to follow in the footsteps of my father. Now I have reached that moment I have always been waiting for. It’s an emotional feeling to share those things with my father and to have that bond that is beyond just being a father and son.”

With a virtual commencement being held this year, this presents an opportunity to recognize both the cadets who earned their degrees and the alumni who helped set them on their path in a new and special way.

“Joining the other members of my family who went before me and the entire Citadel family as a whole means much more to me as a legacy as I was raised coming to football games, open barracks, and most major events on campus,” continued Benton. “Being a legacy gave me a purpose larger than myself and a standard to live up to in order to make my family proud, and I know that the tradition of my family attending The Citadel will not end with me.” 

The South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2020 has 58 legacy cadets who invited special presenters to their commencement. The names of both cadets and the alumni, as well as self-submitted photos, are as follows:

Graduate: Nicholas Harrison Behney

Alumnus: Christopher M. Behney, ’93 and Jan Behney, ’71

Graduate: Preston Michael Dollard Bell

Alumnus: Lt. Col. Scott Bell, SCARNG (Ret.), ’93, and Roger Michael Holcombe Sr., ’66

“Carrying on not only the Citadel’s legacy but my own family’s is very important to me. I would change nothing about my college choice or how I spent my time here.”

Graduate: Jacob Stewart Best
Alumni: Col. David Stuart Best, USA (Ret.), ’62 and Steven Edgar Best, ’98
“My family is proud regardless of what company I am in, but being in the same company as my uncle is a great honor in my opinion.”

Graduate: William Taylor Bishop

Alumnus: William Scott Bishop, ’91

Graduate: Samuel Charles Blanton IV

Alumnus: Lt. Col. Sam C. Blanton III, USA (Ret.), ’89

“Being a legacy is such a great experience because it allows you and whoever you are a legacy for to develop an even greater bond than before.”

Graduate: Donald Peter Bridenbaugh III
Alumnus: Donald Peter Bridenbaugh II, ’84
“Becoming a legacy graduate is an absolute honor for me and elevates my feelings on becoming part of the Long Gray Line.”

Graduate: Jackson William Buda

Alumnus: Jason Buda, ’94

“The coolest thing I could have ever done.”

Graduate: Christopher Michael Cramer

Alumnus: CDR Mark Neale Cramer, USN, (Ret.), ’89

“It’s pretty cool to keep up the family tradition.”

Graduate: John Willson Croft

Alumnus: Charles William Croft, ’84

“It meant more to me then what I can put into words for the past four years to have been walking around Bravo Company and knowing that my Dad and I both went through similar challenging times and lived through it all to be able to talk about our times at The Citadel together.”      

Graduate: Robert Lee Crowder III

Alumnus: Robert Lee Crowder, Jr., ’88

“I think the most special part of being a legacy is wearing the same ring as my father and making my family proud.”      

Graduate: Joseph Edward Curtis Jr.

Alumnus: Joseph Curtis Sr., ’95

“I’m proud to be a legacy graduate, especially since both of my younger brothers are legacy cadets right now and they’re doing Army ROTC like I am.”

Graduate: Andrew Benton Diegel

Alumnus: Ronald Barton Diegel, ’88

“Being a legacy gave me a purpose larger than myself and a standard to live up to in order to make my family proud, and I know that the tradition of my family attending The Citadel will not end with me.”

Graduate: Grady Cornelius Edwards III

Alumnus: Grady Cornelius Edwards II, ’87

“It’s been an absolute privilege to be the second graduate of the Citadel in my family.”

Graduate: Jacob Walker Fiddie

Alumnus: Jamie Fiddie, ’82

“Being a legacy means more since you have a family history at the school and in the same company.”

Graduate: Hunter Sean Franklin

Alumnus: Jeffrey Franklin, ’84

“To follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, father, and two uncles, cannot be described in words, but a connection that I will be able to cherish for years to come, and hopefully pass down to my children.”

Graduate: Griffith Blaine Gaillard

Alumnus: Ray Blaine Gaillard, ’90

“It’s an emotional feeling to share those things with my father and to have that bond that is beyond just being a father and son.”

Graduate: Paul Hardin Hemphill

Alumnus: Roy R. Hemphill, ’87

“I am proud to be joining not only the Long Gray Line, but the long line of Citadel graduates in my family that came before me. In every sense of the word my father was with me every step of the way, and I could have never done it without him. 

Graduate: Thomas Clark Henderson

Alumnus: Col. Mark J Henderson, USMCR, ’91

“To graduate from the same college as [my father] as well as the same company is something that will forever be special to my college experience and hold meaning to my band of gold.

Graduate: William Patrick Hesse

Alumnus: CDR William Francis Hesse, USN (Ret.), ’88

“In a letter my father wrote to me on matriculation day, he told me to forge my own path during my time at The Citadel, and despite the many similarities I know I have accomplished this goal.”

Graduate: Nicholas Crosswell Hudgens

Alumnus: John Hampton Hudgens III, ’84

“Coming into the Citadel I felt like I had a complete understanding of what the school was and what my experience would be like over my four years. I was immediately proven wrong, but that’s what The Citadel experience is supposed to do.”

Graduate: Ryan Mathew Huntington

Alumnus: Mark Samuel Huntington, ’84 and Lee Huntington, ‘16

“My father graduated in 1984 and my brother graduated in 2016. I am both honored and humbled that I can follow in their footsteps as a legacy graduate.”

Graduate: Gus Michael Karres

Alumnus: Col. Matthew G. Karres, USA (Ret.), ’90

“I’m just honored to follow in the footsteps of men better than myself, it’s a special thing. My father is the man I hope to be one day.”

Graduate: James Dillard Kelley

Allumnus: Kenneth Brian Kelley, ’95

Graduate: Bradford David Kicklighter

Alumnus: John D. Kicklighter, ’86

“I am glad that I had the privilege of being a legacy cadet.”

Graduate: Nicholas Reid Livingston

Alumnus: Don C. Livingston Jr., ’88

Graduate: Brady Joseph Lucas

Alumnus: Barry A Lucas, ’91

“I am extremely proud to be a legacy graduate and carry on a tradition that is held very dear to our family.”

Graduate: Brian Thomas Martin

Alumnus: Richard Martin, ’87

“Having my dad and his three brothers as graduates makes The Citadel an important part of my family.”

Graduate: Joseph Luke Martinez

Alumnus: Saul Joseph Martinez, ’93

“It means a lot to me to know I can carry on my Dad’s torch and provide a solid foundation for my future family by going to The Citadel.”

Graduate: David Evan McDonald

Alumnus: David Todd McDonald, ’92

“I made my decision to come to the Citadel not because I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps but because I saw how the school made him into the man that he was and the people that he surrounded himself with. “

Graduate: Dylan B Meetze

Alumnus: Gerald D Meetze, ’90

Graduate: Hunter Allen Moore

Alumnus: Scott Douglas Moore, ’90

“It was definitely cool being a legacy and following in my father’s steps but I really did get to write my own legacy at the school.”

Graduate: John Andrew Mueller Jr.

Alumnus: Moseley Oliver Soule, ’63

“I am extremely honored to be a legacy graduate of the Citadel and hope to improve upon the example set by those before me.”

Graduate: Samuel Jacob Phillips

Alumnus: Col. Samuel Phillips, USA, ’89

“Being able to follow my father’s path has been a great opportunity.”

Graduate: Chandler Griffith Polk

Alumnus: Eason Griffith Polk, ’96

Graduate: Hunter Lee Puckett

Alumnus: Herbert Lipe Puckett III, ’65

“It feels like a rite of passage within the family and our connections have grown stronger.”

Graduate: Harrison Lee Reeves

Alumnus: Raymond Anthony Kyzer, ’63

“My grandad graduated in 1963 so it was practically a different school compared to present day. However I am proud to have walked the same grounds as him and wear the ring as a fellow graduate.”

Graduate: Paul Neal Rhyne

Alumnus: Paul Rhyne Sr, ’93

“We are all very proud of the man that you have become. Leave nothing on the table and leave nothing up for interpretation. Gas it up, Stud!”

Graduate: Bailey Elisa Richardson

Alumnus: Joseph Daniel Richardson II, ’95

“I bet my daddy never thought when he took his daughter to his five year reunion that she would walk on as a cadet sixteen years later. I am forever grateful that we share this bond and that he introduced me to this amazing school.”

Graduate: Christopher Gage Russell

Alumnus: Dr. Bradley Stokes Russell, ’94, and Robert “Bob” Russell, ’59

“My ring and diploma mean so much more to me knowing that they have carried on the third generation of Citadel graduates in my family.”

Graduate: Cameron Paul Warner

Alumnus: Lt. Col. William Stephen Warner, USA (Ret.), ’87

“I found valuable lessons about myself.”

Marshall James AndersonCharles Phillip Anderson Jr, ’93
Donald Milling BarnesJohn Milling Barnes Jr, ’81
William Miller BrunsonEdwin Eugene Brunson II, ’82
Todd Colby ByrdRodney (Rick) Frederick Byrd Jr, ’85
Jackson Lee CrookJimmy Crook, ’88
Benjamin Louis Daniel IIIBenjamin Louis Daniel II, ’91
Jason Campbell GardnerJoe Nuttall, ’68
Drake Williams GarrettWesley Garrett, ’92
Micah Duggan GriffithGary Wayne Griffith, ’90
Evans Maxwell HarrisonJohn Gary Evans Harrison, ’93
Ruston LeBarre Hill IILt. Col. Ruston L. Hill, USA, ’90
Samuel Alexander MortonJoseph Wendell Arsi, ’85
Brian Thomas MurdaughSteven Dean Murdaugh, ’88
Hernan Elias Peña IIIHernan Elias Pena Jr, ’85
John Lingle Rider IIDerek Lingle Rider, ’88
Patrick Andrew RyanLt. Col. Andrew Terrance Ryan, USMC (Ret.), ’92
Turner Wells SegarsAugustus John Sitton Jr, ’68
Thomas Adam TaylorAnthony Bruce Taylor, ’77
Patrick Quinn WaldropMax Waldrop, ’82
Ethan Daniel WarnerTimothy Kinard Warner, ’90, and Leonard Frank Volf Jr, ’66

Note: For legacy cadets or alumni wishing to add their photos to this list, we’re happy to add them; please send your photos to to be included.