In The News – The Citadel Today Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:58:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 In The News – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 Citadel cadet takes oath before taking the field Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:58:42 +0000 Cadet -- and Bulldog soccer player -- Ryleigh Jenkins is joining a long family line of serving our country.]]>

Cadet — and Bulldog soccer player — Ryleigh Jenkins is joining a long family line of serving our country. Her grandfather was a Navy Seal; her dad, a Marine.

Before her nine-win Citadel soccer team hit the road for Mercer, she had her own ceremony as part of her process of becoming a Navy Midshipman.

As seen on WCIV – ABC News 4, by Scott Eisberg

Citadel cadets, professor launch investigation into impacts of PPE on Charleston marshes Fri, 15 Oct 2021 13:37:16 +0000 Photograph credit: Forrest Tucker WCBD TVPhotograph credit: Forrest Tucker WCBD TV“It feels like you can have an impact on something you’re going through right now."]]> Photograph credit: Forrest Tucker WCBD TVPhotograph credit: Forrest Tucker WCBD TV

As seen on WCBD-TV, by Forrest Tucker

Photo above by Forrest Tucker, News 2, WCBD-TV

Armed with boots to trench through muddy banks near the Citadel’s campus, senior cadets Douglas Karam and Jerry Higgins installed a project that the pair have been working on for much of the semester.

“The planning and the process of putting it together actually took about six to seven weeks,” said Karam.

The goal of their experiment is to see how face masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes decompose in a salt marsh environment over the next eight months. The personal protective equipment, or PPE, is screwed down on boards that will become submerged during high tides.

“It feels like you can have an impact on something you’re going through right now,” said Karam.

Photograph by Forrest Tucker, News 2, WCBD-TV

The COVID-19 pandemic created a large need for items like masks and wipes and not all of them have been disposed of properly.

According to research from Ocean Asia, an estimated 1.5 billion facemasks may have entered the ocean as plastic litter in 2020.

“There’s a myth that plastic items take decades to centuries to degrade. What we’re finding in the salt marsh environment is that it’s happening a lot quicker,” said Citadel Professor of Biology Dr. John Weinstein.

With the Lowcountry’s environment mostly made up of saltwater marshes, Dr. Weinstein and the cadets think that the PPE will start to degrade into thousands of microplastics in a much shorter amount of time.

“We believe that it will degrade in four weeks. But over time we are going to check it out at four weeks, eight weeks, sixteen weeks, and thirty-two weeks,” said Higgins. “So we will see how it degrades over time, the rate of how it degrades, and how much each product degrades.”

The research will help them gauge the impact PPE pollution has on aquatic life, including seafood caught to be served in restaurants, and humans.

“As far as their life processes and what they ingest (the aquatic life) are surrounded in water. Not only does it affect the aquatic animals, but also the people who are living in this environment,” said Higgins.

A 1,000-year-old battle sparks a fresh war among academics, amateurs Thu, 14 Oct 2021 12:02:32 +0000 Battle recommenced this year when Mr. Livingston, a professor at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, released a book pinpointing Brunanburh as happening on the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool.]]>

Brunanburh is ancient history. Yet fighting has intensified about where, exactly, it happened

Note: Michael Livingston, Ph.D., holds degrees in history, medieval studies and English. Two of his books have won Distinguished Book Prizes from the Society for Military History. He is also a novelist. Livingston serves as the Secretary General to the U.S. Commission on Military History. He joined The Citadel as a professor in 2006.

As seen in the Wall Street Journal, by Alistair MacDonald

BARNSDALE, England—Over 1,000 years ago, vast armies from what are now Scotland and Ireland swept into a field here to be defeated by soldiers from the emerging nation of England.

No they didn’t, says Michael Livingston, an American historian, who argues that the battle known as Brunanburh happened some 100 miles west, near Liverpool. Mr. Livingston, though, is flat out wrong, says Damo Bullen, a British music festival organizer turned bookseller, who like many others says the battle happened somewhere else entirely.

In Britain, historians love to fight over battle sites, but few elicit such stridence and obsession as Brunanburh. There are more than 30 proposed locations for the battle, which took place in 937, and helped shape what would become England.

Brunanburh’s important historic role, and a dearth of contemporary sources describing where it happened, have led people to war over its location for centuries, making it one of the fiercest battle battles.

Traditionally the realm of bickering academics, the issue has grown more heated as the internet and social media give a platform for amateur archaeologists and have-a-go historians.

Michael Livingston

Battle recommenced this year when Mr. Livingston, a professor at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, released a book pinpointing Brunanburh as happening on the Wirral Peninsula, near Liverpool. Mr. Livingston started delving into Brunanburh over a decade ago and has suffered vitriol for his views ever since, he said, including receiving a death threat.

“I started getting these communications that were strident and extremely angry,” he said. “It was: How dare you Yank, get involved in ‘our history,’ ” he said.

Tensions are clear in polarized online reviews of the book, “Never Greater Slaughter,” where those critical talk of “shoddy research” and a “so-called historian.”

“It’s simple to say that social media and the internet have changed everything, but it’s also simply true,” said Mr. Livingston, who believes the opening up of academic debate is overall a good thing, even if he could do without the nastiness.

His website asks that if people need to contact him: “Please send him a friendly email.”

One non-abusive adversary is Michael Wood. The lauded British historian and TV presenter thinks Mr. Livingston and others arguing for the same battle location are absolutely wrong, and says he’s been subject to hostility from “the Wirral lot” for saying that.

“The whole thing is based on the interpretation of a single place name,” said Mr. Wood, referring to the town of Bromborough in the Wirral.

Mr. Wood first got interested in Brunanburh over 50 years ago, when as a teenager he read a book on the battle. He has a long list of reasons why he believes it most likely happened in the area around Barnsdale, near the northern English town of Doncaster, including its location on a north-to-south thoroughfare and a nearby fort and spring, two things referenced in an account from the time.

Nonsense, says Mr. Livingston. The Wirral fits the logistics and politics of the battle, and is backed up by old sources and artifacts.

Those artifacts are being dug up by Wirral Archaeology, a group of local history enthusiasts, who have found the remains of a belt-strap, weapons and other treasures on what they reckon is the Brunanburh battlefield. These have been sent to a university for testing that could show their age and where they originated.

One member, Peter Jenkins, blames “keyboard warriors” for the attacks against Mr. Livingston and others.

Historians, amateurs and professionals alike, largely agree on this much: The battle happened when Ireland-based Vikings and two kingdoms from around what is now northwest England and Scotland came to destroy Æthelstan, a king who had consolidated his control of much of what became England. They were routed in a blood-drenched fight in which there were “never yet as many people killed before this with sword’s edge,” according to one contemporary account.

But where?

Mr. Bullen, the former music-festival organizer who now runs a bookstore in Scotland, says he often contacts supporters of the Wirral argument. “I said, ‘guys, I am sorry, but you are wrong,’ ” he said of heated discussions. The 45-year-old accuses his adversaries of arrogance.

Mr. Bullen’s interest in archaeology was inspired by watching Mr. Wood’s TV programs as a child. But he dismisses the historian’s theory on Brunanburh as having no depth. “He is a good historian, but he is not a detective,” he said.

Mr. Bullen believes the battle happened near the northern English town of Burnley, pointing to a local hill fort and grave from that era among other evidence. He has written a poem to highlight his claims.

Fathers & princes, kings & sons,

All mingled for the fray,

Death dips & darts, for many hearts

This was their final day.

Britain is pockmarked with battle sites given its long, violent history but pinpointing where any fight happened hundreds of years ago is hard because accounts don’t dwell on location. Place names and topographies can also change, while battlefields were stripped of abandoned weaponry at the time.

Historic England, a government-financed heritage body, has just 47 battlefields in its national register, which requires a site’s provenance to be “securely established.” Brunanburh is not one of them.

For decades historians were convinced where the Battle of Bosworth Field settled a bloody dynastic struggle in 1485, and a large heritage center was built at the site in England’s Midlands region. A recent, more comprehensive study suggests it took place elsewhere.

Mr. Wood says that local pride and the potential for tourism means everyone wants a battle to happen near them.

At Barnsdale, Ashley Tabor was cleaning the gas station he works at when he learned that thousands may have fought and died nearby.

“I’d love it to be local, yes,” he said, looking out across the area, where a busy highway, deserted motel and adult video store now stand.

After Citadel grad’s death, bill in Congress aims to stop military vehicle rollovers Tue, 12 Oct 2021 21:00:06 +0000 The new aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of military tactical vehicles in honor of Conor McDowell, Class of 2017. ]]>

Note: Marine 1st Lt. Conor McDowell is a member of The Citadel Class of 2017.

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Thomas Novelly

WASHINGTON — In 2019, Conor McDowell, a Citadel graduate and first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, died instantly when his light-armored vehicle flipped over during a training exercise at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

In the months since, the 24-year-old Marine’s family has lobbied Congress to investigate their son’s death, asking them to hold the military accountable for hundreds of vehicle rollovers that have killed dozens of service members in the last decade. 

Now, a new bill in Congress titled the “1st Lt. Hugh Conor McDowell Safety in Armed Forces Equipment Act of 2021” aims to improve the safety and effectiveness of military tactical vehicles in his honor. 

Michael McDowell, Conor’s father, said the proposal is one of five bills in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act related to rollover deaths, but the only one named for the former Citadel cadet. 

“We don’t want this just to be about Conor,” McDowell told The Post and Courier. “We want a deep- dive investigation.”

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Maryland Democrats. If passed it “would help supervisors mitigate and prevent fatal training accidents and develop performance criteria and measurable standards for driver training programs,” the senators said in a news release. 

The main part of the program involves installing equipment on vehicles that would record potential hazards, near-accidents and rollovers so the military can have updated data to use during training. The legislation would:

  • Create a pilot program which would record data on Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicles.
  • Identify near-miss accidents and potential hazards that would otherwise go undetected without the data recorder.
  • Assess individual driver proficiency to allow for tailored training.
  • Establish a database for more consistent implementation of safety programs across installations and units.
  • Require commanders to incorporate the latest data sets and statistics into safety programs.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Rob Wittman, R-Va.

“The safety of our young men and women in uniform, particularly during training, must be our top priority,” Brown said. “Tactical vehicle accidents are preventable if we improve our training and ensure a culture of safety within the ranks.”

The legislation follows a 103-page report from the Government Accountability Office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, on such rollovers. Sweeping data was released July 14 revealing that training inconsistency and overconfidence led to the service deaths, as well as a lack of safety personnel who can identify hazards during exercises. 

From 2010 to 2019, the services reported 3,753 noncombat accidents resulting in 123 service member deaths, the report stated. Rollovers were the most deadly accidents, accounting for 63 percent of the fatalities.

One of those occurred on May 9, 2019, when Conor found himself leading a light-armored vehicle training patrol at Pendleton. The rocky terrain was difficult to navigate during the 10-day training exercise. Despite using all the intelligence at their disposal, the eight-wheeled vehicle began tipping into an 18-foot hole covered by tall grass. As the 12-ton machine slowly turned belly up, Conor pushed a lance corporal who was positioned in the machine gun turret back inside at the last minute, according to his family.

He saved his comrade’s life but the newly commissioned first lieutenant was crushed instantly.

Nearly three years after his son’s death, Conor’s father said he’s glad to finally see serious attention being paid to training reform and rollover investigations. He said there is bipartisan support for many of the rollover bills in the NDAA, and said he’s eager to see them pass this year. 

“There are several powerful new measures to accompany this one,” Michael McDowell wrote on Facebook. “Conor has truly been honored.” 

“Surfing” barnacles research earning Citadel scientist international attention Fri, 08 Oct 2021 21:11:22 +0000 Sea turtle's head with barnacles on itSea turtle's head with barnacles on it"We thought, ‘Ah, these guys are moving around so that they can get close together for reproduction.’"]]> Sea turtle's head with barnacles on itSea turtle's head with barnacles on it

Barnacles can move? Seriously who knew? Apparently not many people.

Research by a marine biologist at The Citadel is popping up science news outlets after his work was published by The Royal Society Publishing. The academic piece is entitled “Five hundred million years to mobility: directed locomotion and its ecological function in a turtle barnacle.”

The abstract states that Professor John Zardus, Ph.D., and his co-authors “confirm that the epizoic sea turtle barnacle, Chelonibia testudinaria, has evolved the capacity for self-directed locomotion as adults.” 

Yes, the barnacles that spend their lives attached to sea turtles actually move around on the turtle, they are not stagnant. And, according to the research, they often leave behind a little trail of their sticky “cement.”

Recorded Chelonibia testudinaria barnacle movement on plexiglass plate
Courtesy of Benny K.K. Chan and JRI-Chi Lin

“The goal of movement ecology is to determine how, why, where and when organisms move,” said Zardus. “And that’s what we set out to discover with barnacles.”

Here’s a look at two popular magazine articles about the findings.

Some Barnacles Can Move Around to Improve Feeding Position

The Scientist spoke with marine biologist and barnacle researcher John Zardus about why turtle barnacles—previously thought to be immobile—in fact slowly travel. He thinks the answer is food

As seen in The Scientist, by Chloe Tenn

Almost by definition, barnacles are immobile: these crustaceans cluster on surfaces such as whale heads, sea turtle shells, coastal rocks, and ship hulls. Once barnacle larvae mature, they travel on ocean currents in search of an anchoring place, preferentially settling in locations with good water flow, which often happen to be moving marine animals. Barnacles stick to host locations by secreting an adhesive cement, typically from a rigid plate on their undersides, that glues them to the surface. The general consensus has long been that barnacles then remain permanently cemented to their chosen surfaces, never to move again.

But a 2008 paper described an exception in barnacle immobility in the turtle barnacle Chelonibia testudinaria. This unexpected observation inspired John Zardus, a marine biologist and professor at The Citadel in South Carolina, and his colleagues to investigate barnacle locomotion on turtle shells. In a study published October 6 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they report that not only is Chelonibia testudinaria mobile, but it navigates purposefully toward locations of high water flow where the barnacles can more easily feed.

Barnacles are classified as filter feeders, extending a small fiber-like fan appendage that captures particles and miniscule organisms from the surrounding seawater. They may be able to feed more effectively if they are positioned so that currents push food particles into their fan. Zardus and colleagues hypothesized that Chelonibia testudinaria position themselves to capture more food, and tested this idea in multiple aquarium tanks around the world. The researchers observed that the barnacles moved up to 78.6 mm over the course of a year and could change directions. They also found that the barnacles situated on turtle shells tended to move toward the turtle’s head, against the flow of water that passes as the turtle swims, which would give them access to stronger currents and thus more food.

The Scientist spoke with Zardus about why it matters that these barnacles can move around, and how these slow-moving animals travel over turtle shells.

The Scientist: What interested you in studying animal mobility?

John Zardus: I was originally interested in barnacles that live on other animals. My real question was, how did these barnacles find the host that they have to live on? There are some [barnacles] that are specialized for sea turtles, some for whales. It was just by accident that we came across this species that moves. We weren’t the first ones to discover this. There was a paper published in 2008 by Julia Moriarty. She had contacted me and sent me some photographs, asking, ‘Can barnacles that live on turtles move around?’ I answered, ‘No, no, barnacles don’t do that. Once they’re stuck, they’re there.’ She sent these photos of a time series of turtles over time with barnacles on them. She was using the barnacles to keep track of which turtle was which. She realized that the barnacles seemed to be moving. When I looked at her pictures, I was really blown away by it. We’ve been looking at how that phenomenon could happen ever since. We finally were able to conduct some laboratory experiments that completely confirmed it, and then started asking questions about why they do it.

TS: According to the paper, the study finds barnacles have directed movement for feeding purposes. Could you expand on what this means about the current understanding of barnacles?

JZ: You have to understand a little bit about how a barnacle operates. Basically, they’re like a shrimp in a shell, living upside down, with their head pointed down, and they kick their legs out to capture food. They’re filter feeders, feeding on whatever’s in the plankton. When they attach to a turtle, probably the big benefit [of attaching] is feeding currents. If you take a barnacle, and it’s living in still water, it will take its appendages and stroke them through the water very actively. But once you provide some flow, then they’ll just sit there and passively capture their food. It’s much easier for them to do. They don’t have to expend any energy. This species and others that live on mobile hosts are probably taking advantage of the flow for feeding.

The bottom [of a barnacle shell] is very flat. They sit right on the surface. How does it [move around]? It doesn’t have little legs down there. We don’t know how it’s doing it. We just know that it is [moving] very slowly. It takes weeks or months for it to travel any significant distance. Most barnacles, on their bottom, secrete a basal plate that is made of calcium carbonate, and it’s solid. But this one doesn’t. It has a membrane. There’s a few [barnacles] that are like this with a soft bottom. We’re pretty sure that that’s an important component of the movement.

TS: What surprised you about this ability of barnacles?
JZ: We were pretty sure it was reproduction, but we were wrong. It turned out to be for feeding.

Let me tell you a little about reproduction in barnacles. They are mostly hermaphroditic. They have both male and female components, but they can’t fertilize themselves. They need to have a neighbor. It’s very typical for barnacles to live in clusters so that they can fertilize their neighbor next door. They have direct insemination, with the world’s largest penis per body size. They reach out and copulate with their next-door neighbors. We thought, ‘Ah, these guys are moving around so that they can get close together for reproduction.’

We set up some experiments where we put them in different arrangements, tightly clustered together or separated far apart. We figured that in the ones that were separated far apart, that over time, they would move closer together. But they didn’t. They ended up moving randomly. Only when we put flow on them from the jet in the aquarium did they start moving, and they moved towards the flow.

When you looked at them on sea turtles in the wild, they were mostly moving toward the head of the turtle or towards the anterior part of the turtle shell. That’s going to put them in higher flow. It seems to be that they’re really responding to flow, and that is probably more for feeding, and they don’t seem to be doing it so much for reproduction.

I also have another study that’s in press right now with this species demonstrating that it’s the only barnacle we know of that does not do active feeding. If you give them no flow, a barnacle will typically stroke its appendages to get food. If you put this one with no flow, it does nothing. It’ll die. It will never even actively feed. It relies 100 percent on passive feeding, so it really has to be in a high flow environment all the time. Which makes sense if you’re living on a turtle—you’re going to get a lot of flow.

One of the reasons it might not be so concerned about getting close together with other individuals is [this barnacle] has dwarf males that live attached to it. They’re really tiny, only a few millimeters in size, and a single hermaphrodite . . . may have 30 to 40 of what they call complemental males. They’re tiny individuals and they live in these crevices. They specifically settle in there and then they just provide sperm to the central hermaphrodite. If [the hermaphrodites are] carrying their own males, they probably don’t care if they’re near a neighbor or not because they’ve already got what they need. This one has a really cool biology. All sorts of interesting things going on.

TS: When you were observing these barnacles in the aquariums, were there any challenges that arose with the experiments?
JZ: We had to figure out how to get them attached to surfaces in the lab. We tried two approaches in my lab here in South Carolina. I started raising them from the larval stage, and I could get them to attach onto PVC pipe, and then grow them in the lab just fine. But for whatever reason, those that lived on PVC didn’t move.My colleague in Taiwan, Benny Chan, tried a different approach. He found some crabs that this barnacle was living on. He would catch the crabs, bring them into the lab, euthanize the crabs, cut the crab shell around the base of the barnacle, and then let it sit for a few days until the crab shell dissolved. Once it was dissolved, he could take the barnacle that was intact and healthy, put it onto a plexiglass panel, and let it sit for a few days. It would create some new glue and cement itself onto it. That was the real success. Once we got those glued onto glass panels, those were the ones that we could put into flow and move them around from aquarium to aquarium for the different experiments and do time lapse studies on them.

TS: Do you think that your findings could be extended to perhaps other types of barnacles or sessile animal models?
JZ: I think we should certainly look for it. I don’t think we’re going to find it happening very much. Do I think other barnacles are doing this? I doubt it. Maybe under very special circumstances. We would need to look at those. I think some of the prerequisites for this guy to move is it’s got this very flat, broad base with a membranous bottom. There aren’t too many barnacles that are like that. Those would be the candidates that I think we might look at.

Regarding other animals, there was a recent paper that came out about some deep-sea sponges that they found moving. Again, they don’t know how, but they could see tracks in the sediment or on the surface where the sponges had travelled. That was unexpected. I think it would be interesting to look in other places, but I don’t think it’s going to be widespread phenomenon.

Citadel Professor John Zardus, Ph.D. working with a sea turtle during his research on the epizoic sea turtle barnacle.

TS: Where do you see the future of the research going? What would you like to explore next with these barnacles?
JZ: I think the big question people really want to know is, how do they do this? What’s the mechanism? That’s where we’re headed. We don’t have a lot of tangible evidence for how it’s happening right now.

TS: Do you have any ideas or any suspicions of how barnacles could be moving?
JZ: I think it’s got to do with the glue. Barnacles, when they first attach to the substratum—almost all species—they start secreting a glue that permanently fixes them in place, and then they continue to secrete that glue throughout their lifetime as they get larger and larger. This one’s doing the same thing, but it must also be dissolving its glue. We want to look at that and see if somehow the glue is being laid down, then the animal is somehow severing that connection, and then reapplying the glue in periodic intervals.

We also want to examine this glue more carefully. We know that it looks a little different from some of the other glues we’ve seen in barnacles. It gets put down in different layers and the composition is different just looking under the electron microscope. That’s never been reported in barnacle glue before. That’s one part that we think is going to be important to figuring out.

Also reported on

It moves! Supposedly immobile barnacles can ‘surf’ across turtle shells
By Rachel Fritts

Courtesy of Prof. John Zardus, Ph.D., The Citadel Department of Biology

Barnacles are notoriously clingy creatures. The filter-feeding crustaceans—familiar sights on rocky shores or the hulls of boats—were long thought to be completely immobile. But a new study has confirmed that at least one species, which settles on top of sea turtle shells, can slide across surfaces to places where it’s easier to snag a snack.

Chelonibia testudinaria live predominantly on the backs of sea turtles and occasionally hitch rides on other seafaring creatures like manatees and crabs. Whereas their larval forms swim freely, adults cement themselves to a surface, where they were believed to hold fast for life. But in the early 2000s, researchers found there might be a little more wiggle room than previously thought: C. testudinaria barnacles on wild green sea turtles seemed to move around on the turtles’ shells, often against the current, over a period of months.

In 2017, other scientists tracked 15 barnacles’ movements on an acrylic surface in a lab (see video, above). After 1 year of observations, they found the barnacles used incremental secretions of their cement to “surf” to a new position, they report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. They suspect the barnacles are after food, as they moved toward areas of higher water flow—which carry more food particles—when exposed to a current.   

The barnacles won’t be winning any races—they averaged a distance of about 7 millimeters over 3 months, with one barnacle moving 8 centimeters over 1 year. But scientists say this is still a notable feat for a group of animals once considered incapable of relocating.

The Citadel, VMI Corps of Cadets led by women Thu, 07 Oct 2021 13:50:21 +0000 Attendees of The Citadel’s military review parade on Saturday were witnesses to tradition and a history-making moment.]]>

As seen on WCSC – Live 5 News, by Emilie Zuhowski

Attendees of The Citadel’s military review parade on Saturday were witnesses to tradition and a history-making moment.

For the first time in history, the regimental commanders of the Corps of Cadets from both The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute are women.

Cadet Colonel Kathryn Christmas is the second woman to command the South Carolina Corps of Cadets at the Citadel.

Christmas was greeted at the parade by Cadet First Captain Kasey Meredith, the first woman in VMI’s history to serve as regimental commander. The two exchanged hats.

“You kinda feel a special bond between each other,” Christmas said.

The regimental commanders are responsible for the success and well-being of all cadets in their Corps. The Citadel has approximately 2,300 cadets, while VMI has about 1,700.

“For all the young ladies out there, when they see two regimental commanders, they can now view themself with that success,” The Citadel President Gen. Glenn Walters said.

Olivia Hime, Citadel Regimental Public Affairs NCO, called the moment inspiring.

“I think it’s a big jump for both of the schools being that most are predominately male,” Hime said. “So, I think it’s a big step forward and it’s really inspiring to other females like myself and the classes to come.”

Christmas says she thinks she can help Meredith and her school become acquainted with women in leadership positions.

North Charleston officer, Citadel grad gets hospital escort for breast cancer surgery Wed, 06 Oct 2021 19:41:27 +0000 North Charleston police officer Ashley Thompson, '09, received a slew of support before her first surgery following chemotherapy.]]>

Photo: North Charleston police officer Ashley Thompson, with her parents Barbara and Ed Thompson, is pictured in front of a department cruiser marked for breast cancer awareness with a pink ribbon and pink lights before her cancer surgery on Oct. 5, 2021. Police and firefighters escorted Thompson to Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital for her first breast cancer surgery following chemotherapy. (Courtesy: North Charleston Police Department)

Note: Ashley Thompson graduated from the South Carolina Corps of Cadets in 2009.

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Jocelyn Grzeszczak

A North Charleston police officer received a slew of support in the form of a bright pink patrol car as department members escorted her to her first surgery following chemotherapy as part of her breast cancer treatment.

Between 25 and 30 police officers and staff members participated in the early morning escort, including North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess. They followed officer Ashley Thompson from her home in Mount Pleasant to Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital on Oct. 5.

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess offers well wishes to officer Ashley Thompson before her cancer surgery on Oct. 5, 2021. (Courtesy: North Charleston Police Department)

North Charleston’s oath of office states, “I will faithfully serve the citizens of the City,” Burgess said.

“Ashley’s service to the North Charleston (residents) is faithful,” he said. “Please say a prayer for Pfc. Ashley Thompson.”

Thompson has been with the department since June 2010, spokesman Harve Jacobs said. She is a neighborhood resource officer who works on community engagement efforts and special events.

Family, friends and co-workers, including North Charleston police Lt. Ryan Terrell, who organized the escort (center in pink shirt) and Chief Reggie Burgess (far right) are pictured with officer Ashley Thompson outside Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital, where she was escorted for her first surgery for breast cancer after completing chemotherapy. (Courtesy: North Charleston Police Department)

Lt. Ryan Terrell, who leads the Neighborhood Resource Unit, organized the escort. These types of escorts are done only when the officer gives the department permission, Jacobs said.

Two special vehicles were included in the procession — a pink North Charleston patrol car emblazoned with a breast cancer ribbon and the words “Join The Fight,” as well as a pink North Charleston Fire Department truck bearing the message, “We Support The Fight,” along with hundreds of handwritten messages scrawled over its exterior.

Thompson, a graduate of The Citadel, was traveling to the hospital to receive her first post-chemo operation as part of her breast cancer treatment. She was diagnosed last year, Jacobs said.

“Please pray for her recovery as well as others that are fighting this awful disease,” according to a post on the North Charleston Police Department’s Twitter feed.

Each October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign organized by charities.

North Charleston police officer Ashley Thompson is pictured with North Charleston Fire Department Deputy Chief of Professional Standards Stephanie Julazadeh in front of a pink firetruck used to help escort Thompson to cancer surgery on Oct. 5, 2021, at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital. (Courtesy: North Charleston Police Department)

In South Carolina, breast cancer among women was the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer between 2014 and 2018, according to data from the National Cancer Institute. There were nearly 129.9 breast cancer cases diagnosed per 100,000 women. This was higher than the national incidence rate of 126.8 cases.

It is the second-deadliest type of cancer for women in the state, next to lung cancer, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Early detection of breast cancer is key to survival, because the cancer has had less time to spread to lymph nodes or other locations beyond the breast, according to DHEC.

Common breast cancer symptoms include lumps, skin changes or any other breast changes. Health professionals suggest women do monthly breast self exams, visit their doctor each year for a breast exam and have a mammogram once per year if they are over the age of 40.

Head of Leadership Studies included as expert in USA Today article Tue, 28 Sep 2021 18:17:49 +0000 Professor Faith Rivers James, The CitadelProfessor Faith Rivers James, The Citadel"Many Black farmers and other groups who have experienced historic discrimination have inherited heirs’ property." ]]> Professor Faith Rivers James, The CitadelProfessor Faith Rivers James, The Citadel

Note: Professor Faith Rivers James, J.D., is the Assistant Provost for Leadership at The Citadel, and the head of the Department of Leadership Studies. Rivers James, who holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an A.B. from Dartmouth College, practiced legislative law in Washington D.C. She is an expert on leadership, public policy, legislative process and property law.

Black farmers accuse the USDA of racism. The USDA appears to agree and vows to address ‘historical discrimination.’

Synopsis of article from
By Mark Dovich, Jeff A. Chamer and Hazel Tang 

WASHINGTON – The Department of Agriculture launched a commission Friday aimed at addressing “historical discrimination” in agriculture, a sign the USDA is looking to overcome a decades-long history of systemic racism that Black farmers say has shrunk their numbers and kept families from building generational wealth.

The Equity Commission will help identify USDA programs and policies that have contributed to, exacerbated or perpetuated discrimination, the department said.

“The truth is, the deck has been stacked against Black farmers who for generations have been denied access to land and capital,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement to USA TODAY.

He vowed a “top to bottom” evaluation of decades-old farm programs to ensure they “more equitably serve” American farmers. 

Black farmers account for only 1.4% of all U.S. farmers, farm only 0.5% of the country’s farmland and generate only 0.4% of total U.S. agricultural sales every year. In contrast, about 14% of all U.S. farmers in 1920 were Black, according to that year’s agriculture census.

Full article on at link above. Contributions by Professor Faith Rivers James are below.

Keeping farms in the family

Another stumbling block to supporting Black farmers: keeping farms in the family.

At issue is a legal term called heirs’ property. The term refers to land inherited by the descendants of a property owner without any form of legal documentation of ownership. The heirs “hold title as tenants in common, but that interest is only conceptual,” explained Faith Rivers James, assistant provost for leadership at The Citadel military college and an expert on heirs’ property.

Because the land has not been divided, no single person can claim a specific part of it.

The problem’s roots go back more than a century, Rivers James said.

“The unique challenge in the Southern states [where most Black farmers live] is that much of the property was acquired during Reconstruction, at which time there were not sufficient lawyers to assist landowners in drafting wills,” Rivers James said. “So subsequently, without access to lawyers for estate planning, a great deal of land in the South was transferred [without wills] and is now heirs’ property.”

That’s pushed many heirs out of agriculture. Black farmers lost upward of 90% of their land from 1910 to 1997, according to agriculture censuses.

Rivers James called heirs’ property issues “a vestige of segregation and discrimination in its worst form.”

In July, the USDA announced it would provide $67 million in loans to help address long-standing heirs’ landownership issues and allow Black farmers to keep land in their families.

“Many Black farmers and other groups who have experienced historic discrimination have inherited heirs’ property,” Vilsack said in a statement at the time. “USDA is committed to revising policies to be more equitable and examining barriers faced by heirs’ property owners is part of that effort.” 

The $67 million is intended to help heirs receive recognition as landowners. The loan program is a “very much needed” step to solve a “systemic issue,” said Cornelius Blanding, the executive director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a Georgia-based nonprofit group.

The program will “play a huge role in starting to clear up this heirs’ property issue in communities around the United States in general, and in the Black community specifically,” he said.

Helping heirs acquire clear title to their land is “the only way to open doors for growth and to be able to hand that property on to their family members,” Rivers James said.

“After all,” she said, “a great portion of these challenges arose because of government policies and state land laws that impaired this form of African American landownership.”

Voices from Afghanistan: A serviceman and veterans reflect on the 20-year war Mon, 27 Sep 2021 18:25:59 +0000 Jacob Hagstrom, Ph.D., interviewed in this article, is a professor with The Citadel's Department of History. ]]>

Note: Jacob Hagstrom, Ph.D., interviewed in this article, is a professor with The Citadel’s Department of History. Hagstrom, a graduate of the United States Military Academy West Point, joined The Citadel in 2020 and teaches Leadership in Military History and History of the U.S. Military.

As heard on South Carolina Public Radio, by Victoria Hansen

Excitement mixes with exhaustion as Major Phil Compton wraps up a mission in New Jersey. The operations flight commander with the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Charleston has been busy, very busy.

“It’s a personal mission to go to Afghanistan and do what we do,” says Maj. Compton. “A lot of us embrace that.”

A Mission of Hope – A Serviceman’s Story

Compton was deployed in 2011 he says to teach Afghans in Kabul how to build a sustainable model for their bases. He returned in 2018 as part of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Hands program learning valuable cultural and language skills to bridge the efforts between the military and Afghans.

That’s when he worked closely with interpreter Zamzama Safi.

“When I met her, it was very clear she had gone through some trauma,” says Maj. Compton.

Safi was kidnapped for three days, tortured and raped by the Taliban when she was 15 years-old. Compton and his colleagues feared for her life when Kabul fell to the Taliban in August shortly after U.S. forces pulled out. He was one of the first she contacted after safely evacuating.

“In my heart and mind, she represents like the resiliency of most Afghans that I’ve worked with,” says Maj. Compton.

“They can go through some tremendous trauma and turn around and smile at you and hope for a better future.”

Compton sees that same hope on the faces of Afghan refugees arriving in New Jersey.

The 35-year-old grandson of Mexican immigrants tells them in Dari, “Day by Day a new life will be made.”

As Compton focuses on hope, many Americans struggle to understand the 20-year war in Afghanistan. What did it accomplish if the Taliban could quickly regain control, and at what cost?

Nearly 2,500 American service members and 4,000 U.S. contractors were killed. The monetary price tag is estimated at more than $2.3 trillion.

Another Mistake – A Veteran’s View

“All those years of money and sacrifice by the American people were literally in vain,” says Gerald Mahle of Beaufort.

The 77-year-old was deployed in 2002 as a civil affairs Sergeant in the Army.

“If you want to explain Afghanistan, just look at Vietnam,” says Mahle. “It’s just a mirror image. We did the exact things wrong 30 years later.”

Mahle believes the U.S. should have left when Osama Bin Laden was killed, arguing what he saw of Afghanistan wasn’t really a country, but fragmented tribes in conflict with one another. He says America has no business imposing its values on others.

“Who are we to tell them they need to have Democracy,” he says. “They were fighting and killing each other for the last thousand years.”

“I think everyone has an individual story to tell and it’s based on these local things that aren’t necessarily replicated elsewhere,” says Citadel professor Dr. Jacob Hagstrom.

Hagstrom was deployed too, in 2011 as an Army field artillery officer with the 25th Infantry Division.

He’s learning much of politics is local as he pieces together the stories of other veterans and former leaders in Afghanistan as part of an oral history project.

What Can We Learn – A Professor’s Project

Dr. Hagstrom says Americans there after 2014 were likely aware deals were being made between the Taliban and Afghan elders, but they weren’t privy to those agreements.

That’s why, he says partnership are critical. They help overcome barriers in language, culture and history.

“If people in the United States had understood the history of Afghanistan from the beginning, I think we would have been a lot more wary about committing to a long-term military engagement there.”

For us, the mission to find those responsible for September 11th and prevent future terrorist attacks was the beginning of a 20-year war. But for Afghanistan, it was another battle in an ongoing, generational, civil war.

Harvey and Marcia Schiller donate $1M for surgical innovation Wed, 22 Sep 2021 16:07:06 +0000 Brig. Gen. Harvey Schiller earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from The Citadel in 1960 and delivered a Greater Issues address in 2003.]]>

Note: Brig. Gen. Harvey Schiller earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from The Citadel in 1960. He has previously donated the funding needed to renovate chemistry labs on campus; he also delivered a Greater Issues address in 2003.

Press release from the Medical University of South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Sports executive and retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Harvey Schiller and his wife, Marcia, have committed to donating $1 million to establish the Harvey and Marcia Schiller Surgical Innovation Center at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSCHealth). The center will be dedicated to innovating surgical procedures and developing new surgical tools and technologies to improve patient care.

The center, currently located on the fourth floor of the MUSC Clinical Sciences Building, is a collaborative effort among faculty members in the departments of Surgery, Regenerative Medicine and Bioengineering. Heart surgeon Arman Kilic, M.D., an internationally known expert on artificial intelligence (AI), will direct the center.

“The Harvey and Marcia Schiller Surgical Innovation Center will transform how surgery is performed,” said Kilic. “What we learn and develop at the center will not only change how patients in South Carolina are treated, it will change what’s possible for patients nationwide. Centers across the country will look to us as a leading source of innovation in surgical health care.”

Schiller is a graduate of The Citadel and earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Michigan. He has held leadership positions with the Southeastern Conference (SEC), YankeeNets, Turner Sports, Diversified Search, sailing’s America’s Cup and SailGP, and the U.S. Olympic Committee, among others. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for service in Vietnam.

“Innovation is a core value at MUSC. As someone who has made a career out of pushing the envelope, Harvey Schiller gets it,” said MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS. “The investment he and Marcia have made in MUSC will allow us to keep pushing the boundaries of science to deliver cutting-edge solutions, with the goal of achieving better, safer, and in some cases, less-costly care for patients. We are tremendously grateful for their generosity and this innovative partnership.”

The Schillers have also generously supported thyroid cancer research at MUSC through their family foundation.


About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is home to the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality and safe patient care while training generations of compassionate, competent health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Close to 25,000 care team members provide care for patients at 14 hospitals with approximately 2,500 beds and 5 additional hospital locations in development, more than 300 telehealth sites and nearly 750 care locations situated in the Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate regions of South Carolina. In 2021, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $4.4 billion. The more than 25,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.