Veterans – The Citadel Today Thu, 13 Aug 2020 18:49:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Veterans – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 Meet Ashley Towers, incoming president of the Student Veteran Association Thu, 02 Jul 2020 20:17:11 +0000 The Citadel Student Veterans Association is a student-governed organization that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina]]>

The Citadel Student Veterans Association (SVA) is a student-governed organization, made up of veterans from all branches of the U.S. armed services, that assists veteran students enrolled at the Military College of South Carolina.

The SVA works to serve as points-of-contact and mentors for veterans on campus. Members also help guide students on the college’s traditions, policies and procedures. In addition to giving guided tours, members are active participants in extracurricular sports and campus clubs while also giving back to the community by participating in volunteer work through the Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

Ashley Towers, a veteran day student majoring in Intelligence and Security Studies, will lead the SVA in the 2020-2021 academic year. Learn more about her, and her plans for the SVA, below.

First, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in a very small town in upstate New York and after completing an AS in Criminal Justice: Police Science. I knew I wanted to continue with education, but I also needed to get out to do something of service and see more of the world. My younger brother decided he wanted to speak with a National Guard recruiter, and we both committed to enlisting that day.

What was your time in the National Guard like?

I served for eight years in the New York Army National Guard’s military police. I deployed to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay and responded to Hurricane Sandy. I was an E-5 sergeant when I finished my term. 

What does it mean to you to be a veteran at The Citadel?

I’ve attended college at other institutions, and I have never received the type of faculty and staff support as I have at The Citadel. The history, the prestige and the name recognition of The Citadel is really impressive. Through Citadel alumni, career fairs, networking, events and other veteran students, I have been provided some amazing opportunities to connect with people I look up to and strive to reach their level of professional success. I really couldn’t imagine enjoying and succeeding in my academic career path had I chosen anywhere else.

Why did you want to serve as president of the SVA this year?

I wanted to be more involved with the SVA. Other commitments during previous semesters kept me from being as active as I would have liked to be, and I felt in the upcoming semester that I could commit the time and effort to serve on behalf of my fellow veterans and the amazing faculty and staff that support us. My decision to put my name in the running was solidified when I received messages from other veterans supporting me for president— to me that’s a big thing.

What kinds of things do you want to do to improve the veteran experience on campus?

I hope to continue the path that previous Citadel SVA presidents have laid in advocating for and enhancing the veteran experience — they’ve done some great work in creating an understanding of what and who the veteran student body is on campus. I’d like to foster growth of interaction between cadets and veterans. Luke Darling, SVA vice president, had a great idea last semester to offer cadets who have commissioned an introduction to a veteran to talk about what to expect or just to talk about the service in general. It would be great to see a luncheon or a fun event held between veterans and cadets. Most of all, the veterans on campus have already served our country and in that service, upheld the values and ethics The Citadel seeks to instill in cadets, and I want to promote a veteran experience where our veterans are included, acknowledged and appreciated.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in other than the SVA?

Currently, I am conducting research with Dr. Jordana Navarro. Next semester I will also be serving as the president of The Citadel’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has disrupted one of my favorite extracurricular activities for the foreseeable future—travel! Last year I participated in the study abroad programs to Georgia and Estonia, and additionally traveled to England, the Czech Republic, Finland and Scotland. I just had to postpone until next year a trip I had scheduled for traveling to Grenada in August. I’ve been keeping busy during the quarantine with my Peloton bike that, luckily, I had decided to purchase only a few weeks before the virus set in. 

Ranked as the No. 1 College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 and 2020, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment where military service is understood and appreciated. Approximately 240 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day-student undergraduates, evening undergraduates or graduate students.

The Right Path Wed, 01 Jul 2020 14:45:54 +0000 Thomas Taylor, Veteran Day StudentThomas Taylor, Veteran Day StudentVeteran day student Thomas Taylor planned to spend his career in the Army, but when he was injured on duty, he was forced to change his plans. And that’s when he started exploring the idea of pursuing a college education.]]> Thomas Taylor, Veteran Day StudentThomas Taylor, Veteran Day Student

Thomas Taylor planned to spend his career in the Army, but when his back was injured after a building in Afghanistan collapsed on him, he was forced to change his plans.  And that’s when he started exploring the idea of pursuing a college education.

For veteran students making the transition from active-duty life to the civilian world, The Citadel offers a familiar way of life, a comforting reminder of their own service.

Taylor enlisted in the Army in 2007 where he served for more than a decade in various roles, including airborne infantryman, machine gun operator and designated marksman.  Deciding on a college was easy. A native of South Carolina and the son of a 1977 graduate, Taylor knew The Citadel was where he wanted to be.

“There was no question in my mind about coming to The Citadel,” he said. “This is a place I knew I would fit in.”

Taylor enrolled in 2016, majoring in exercise science. The Citadel offers veterans several ways to earn a degree, including night classes and online instruction. Another option is the veteran day program which allows veterans to attend classes with cadets on campus. Veteran students do not live on campus or have military and fitness requirements. There is, however, an opportunity to interact with and mentor cadets—a perk Taylor enjoys because it gives him the opportunity to share his life experiences with young people seeking a military career.

“There is a camaraderie between cadets and veteran students. We can express ourselves, and the cadets are really hungry for our stories,” said Taylor. “I want to help shape tomorrow’s leaders. It’s important to me because I want to help influence change. It’s not something that is taught in a classroom.”

At 33, Taylor’s own military experience has instilled in him a determination to succeed.  Quitting has never been an option, even during the most intense physical training.  “I was not built for running but being alongside those guys who wouldn’t give up gave me the drive to push harder to not be the last guy but to strive to be better.”

In May, Taylor earned his bachelor of science degree, but he’s not done.  Now, he’s enrolled in the Master of Science in Health, Exercise and Sport Science with a concentration in tactical performance and resiliency.  He wants to help soldiers, veterans and first responders by preparing them for the mental and physical stresses of their job.

“I chose this program because I am passionate about being physically active and helping others,” he said. “I hope that this degree will allow me to continue my support and dedication to helping those that protect and serve the public.”

While Taylor’s departure from the Army was not part of his original plan, his determination to serve remains.

“The military was a challenge, and that’s why I chose to finish my degree at The Citadel—for the challenge,” said Taylor. “Sometimes the harder path is the right path.”

Remembrance at The Citadel War Memorial led by Assoc. of the U.S. Army and Brig. Gen. Dickinson, USA (Ret.), Class of 1967 Fri, 22 May 2020 20:51:59 +0000 Despite the inability to host a traditional event, Memorial Day 2020 would not be disregarded by the Association of the U.S. Army and the Citadel Alumni Association.]]>

One red, white, and blue wreath and one small gathering of physically-distanced people in masks — encircled by raven-black granite bearing hundreds of names. Despite the inability to host a more traditional event with a crowd, Memorial Day 2020 would not be disregarded by the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) local chapters and The Citadel Alumni Association (CAA).

To honor The Citadel alumni who were killed in action, and all of America’s service people lost in war, the organizations held a ceremonial wreath laying at The Citadel War Memorial on campus, meant to be shared with others digitally through images and video.

The memorial, rooted near the center of the college next to Summerall Chapel, was the vision of the Class of 1967. Fittingly, a member of that class, Brig. Gen. Tom Dickinson, USA (Ret.), also a member of the Coastal South Carolina ASUA chapter, provided the remarks during the May 21 wreath laying. 

Dickinson’s small audience included The Citadel President, Gen. Glenn M. Walters, USMC (Ret.), and Judith Ranger Smith, the daughter of Capt. Terry Cordell, ’57, representing America’s Gold Star Families, as well as few AUSA, CAA and Citadel staff members. Cordell was killed in action in Vietnam.

Today, we stand along the Avenue of Remembrance at The Citadel’s War Memorial. During this unprecedented time in American history, we remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. We remember conflicts in which these alumni fought and are eternally honored at the Memorial. We invite everyone to enjoy the beauty of this monument here at The Citadel and pay tribute to the fallen.

Originally known as Decoration Day, one of the first recorded gatherings and laying of flowers on graves was done by a group of freed slaves right here in Charleston. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971 and occurs on the last Monday within the month of May. Memorial Day observances occur officially at 3PM locally across the nation.

The wreath we will place is adorned in the patriotic colors of our nation. Red representing valor and honor. White representing innocence and purity. And Blue representing hope and perseverance. Throughout this weekend, remember our fallen heroes, remember our veterans, and remember those currently serving. As we place this wreath, please take a moment of silence to remember our fallen.

Brig. Gen. Tom Dickinson, USA (Ret.), Citadel Class of 1967 and member of the Coastal South Carolina Chapter of the Association of the United States Army

Though the group was small, the meaning of the day was not diminished.

“The Citadel has a special connection with Memorial Day.  Our graduates served in every conflict since the Mexican War and are serving on the front lines today.

The Citadel War Memorial enshrines the names of all Citadel alumni who gave their lives in these conflicts.  It takes on special significance each Memorial Day. I am honored to represent The Citadel as we mark this remembrance.

As with many events in the past weeks, we cannot gather to reflect as a group.  We can all take a moment to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice and mark this Memorial Day in our own ways.

I wish everyone in our Citadel Family a safe, healthy Memorial Day.”

Gen. Glenn M. Walters, USMC (Ret.), president of The Citadel and member of the Class of 1979

Citadel Alumni Association Memorial Day 2020 video

From service to The Citadel, these veteran graduates are good to go Wed, 20 May 2020 20:19:54 +0000 Photo: Annette, a F-4C Phantom II jet, in front of Murray Barracks As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel is an obvious college choice, not only for cadets]]>

Photo: Annette, a F-4C Phantom II jet, in front of Murray Barracks

As the Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel is an obvious college choice, not only for cadets who plan on joining the military, but also for those who have already served in the military.

Ranked as the No. 1 College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News & World Report in 2019 and 2020, The Citadel offers veterans the opportunity to complete or advance their educations in an environment where military service is understood and appreciated. Approximately 240 veterans currently attend The Citadel as day-student undergraduates, evening undergraduates or graduate students.

Dozens of veteran students participated in the virtual commencement ceremonies for both the South Carolina Corps of Cadets and The Citadel Graduate College.

Take a look at some of the outstanding achievements of the veterans in the Class of 2020:

Jesse Brooks

Degree: Psychology, Bachelor of Arts
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Destination: Continue work as the veteran services coordinator at The Citadel

“Going forward, I will use my role to improve on or add more veteran initiatives at The Citadel.”

Juan Campana

Degree: Intelligence and Security Studies, Bachelor of Arts
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Destination: U.S. Federal Government Service

“Earn a spot in life where alumni will stop and exchange words just because you wear the band of gold or even The Citadel Graduate College non-cadet ring. Being surrounded by the influential men and women in the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, faculty, staff, and alumni will be a life-changing experience.”

Thomas Coger

Degree: Counselor Education: Secondary Counseling, Master of Education
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Destination: Begin work on a second Master of Education degree at The Citadel

“If all goes as planned, I will complete the new program in time for the CGC spring 2021 commencement. I will be looking for employment as a secondary school counselor in the Lowcountry area.”

Isaiah “Josh” Lowman

Degree: Business Administration, Bachelor of Science
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Container Operations Coordinator at the South Carolina Ports Authority

“The Citadel is an extremely veteran-friendly campus with an even more helpful VA rep. Also, The Citadel is the most prestigious college in the state, especially in Charleston.”

Read more about Lowman here.

Sean Michael

Degree: Master in Business Administration
Hometown: Oceanside, California
Destination: Continue work in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry near Columbia, South Carolina

“The college has a long, cherished history with a strong focus on principled leadership and service to our state and country. The flexibility of the MBA program makes it possible, but not easy, to complete a master’s degree while working full-time and supporting a family.”

Austin O’Donoghue

Degree: Master of Business Administration
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Destination: Principal Engineer, RSDC Group

Citadel nursing alumni and students: servant leader heroes during pandemic Tue, 07 Apr 2020 10:00:58 +0000 Tamar Sternfeld Citadel Class of 2019, nurse wearing protective gearTamar Sternfeld Citadel Class of 2019, nurse wearing protective gearPhoto above: Citadel Class of 2019 nursing alumna, Tamar Sternfeld, working in protective gear at MUSC in Charleston The Class of 2020 includes the Swain Department of Nursing’s second graduating]]> Tamar Sternfeld Citadel Class of 2019, nurse wearing protective gearTamar Sternfeld Citadel Class of 2019, nurse wearing protective gear

Photo above: Citadel Class of 2019 nursing alumna, Tamar Sternfeld, working in protective gear at MUSC in Charleston

The Class of 2020 includes the Swain Department of Nursing’s second graduating class. There are 7 cadets and 12 evening undergraduate students expected to graduate, take their board exams and then begin working full time as nurses. They’ve been training in healthcare facilities, earning clinical experience. They’re finishing their classes online like everyone else, to enter an entirely new dimension in healthcare unlike any other class of nurses in history.

There is an incredible maturity that I see with the senior nursing cadets and students as they prepare to serve their communities and for some, their country, as nurses during this historic pandemic.

They’ll miss the traditional graduation events, including military commissioning ceremonies and their pinning ceremony. Cadets are also missing the esprit de corps that is a treasured part of the military lifestyle at The Citadel, yet I have not heard one single complaint.

The cadets, and all of the nursing students understand the uncompromising need for social distancing more than most. They are intensively focused on their next steps.

Amelia Joseph, Ph.D., nurse administrator for The Swain Department of Nursing at The Citadel

Joseph directed the founding of the college’s nursing program and is in contact with numerous alumni from the first graduating class in 2019.

“Our nurses from the class of 2019 learned about pandemics, but serving patients during COVID-19, influencing and saving lives on a daily basis, is a reality for them and a learning experience like no other,” Joseph said. “They seem to be doing well and meeting this crisis the way we would expect a Citadel graduate to do.  They understand the critical nature of their work.”

The Citadel’s Swain Department of Nursing first graduating class 2019

Citadel nursing alumni in the war against COVID-19

Tamar Sternfeld, BSN, RN, ’19, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Charleston

Tamar Sternfeld is an inpatient, bedside nurse at MUSC in the Digestive Disease Center. She is also a wife and a mother. She shared these thoughts via email.

Most of our patients have some type of problem with their liver, pancreas, Bariatric surgery or other gastrointestinal related issues.

The hardest part has been keeping up with the rapid flow of information that has been coming out as this situation has evolved so quickly. Our manager briefs us twice a day, at a minimum, sometimes even more. She has been working very hard to make sure we are kept abreast of all of the information as it comes out. Her transparency has helped to bring us together as a team. 

Tamar Sternfeld, RN, at MUSC. Sternfeld graduated from The Citadel in 2019

My husband and I have a good system worked out. When I come home from work, I call him to tell him I’m on my way. When I pull into the garage, he meets me there with a towel and a brown paper bag. I take off my shoes and my scrubs before I walk in my house and go straight into the shower. My children, thankfully, are old enough to understand that the work I am doing requires that I maintain a safe distance from them. They have been very adaptable and have even jumped in with the cleaning that goes on every day in our house. My husband has been great about framing the work I’m doing as “holy work” when he talks to the kids. They are so supportive and bring a smile to my face when I come home after a hard day.

I remind my patients that no matter how scared they might be, I am there with them. I tell them that we are going to do everything in our power to protect them and keep them safe. Regardless of whether they test positive or not, we are going to treat their symptoms and do everything we can to help them get better. I try to address the fear that they are inevitably feeling and help them feel safe and secure in my care. By acknowledging their fear, it makes them more comfortable. MUSC has, as have most hospitals, restricted visitors so most of my patients are feeling very lonely and  isolated. I try to check in with their loved ones, as well as make sure the patient feels like we are partners on getting them better and getting them home as soon as possible. 

I’m grateful every day for my Citadel education. It taught me how to adapt, how to function as a part of a team and how to be a leader, whether from the front of the pack or the rear. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if I’m the one treating the particular patient or supporting the nurse who is. We are all one team, whose goal is to make sure our patients and our care team members stay as healthy as possible throughout this crisis. 

Austin Bren, BSN, RN, ’19, Roper Hospital, Charleston

As seen in The Post & Courier

Note: Austin Bren, Citadel Class of 2019, was among other healthcare workers featured by the newspaper

Austin Bren, 33, is a registered nurse at Roper Hospital in the cardiac care unit. He has cared for COVID-19 positive patients and lives in North Charleston. June will mark his one-year anniversary as a nurse.

“I’ve worked in fire and EMS for 10 years, so I’m pretty used to being in the line of fire. … It’s still a learning curve and everything is new.”

Bren recently decided to limit his news intake to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates and memos from his employer. His patients have been anxious about all the news, too, so he tries to distract them, get to know them and get to know their families. 

“I can definitely see them getting depressed from extreme isolation,” Bren said. “There are a lot of aspects to it that people don’t appreciate or aren’t aware of. … My co-workers are the ones I’m worried about the most. We’re taking the appropriate measures inside the hospitals. But outside the hospital, it’s a whole different story.” 

Samantha Lisek, BSN, RN, ’19, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, Charelston

Abby Koger, BSN, RN ’19

Also recognizing other 2019 nursing alumni for their leadership:

Emily Banks, BSN, RN, ’19, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston
Sarah Ann Brady, BSN, RN, ’19, Yale New Haven Hospital, Connecticut
Cherie’ Doney, BSN, RN, ’19, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Arkansas
Dan Egelson, BSN,RN, ’19, MUSC, Charleston
Stephanie Greene, BSN, RN, ’19, East Cooper Medical Center, Charleston
Amanda S. Kassab, BSN, RN, ’19, MUSC, Charleston
Kendrick Kantala, BSB, RN, ’19, MUSC, Charleston
Taylor Morris, BSN, RN, ’19, MUSC, Charleston
Maddy Salem, BSN, RN, ’19, MUSC, Charleston

Citadel nursing alumni – we are thinking about you and would love to hear from you. Send a note to and we’ll proudly recognize you.

Introducing The Citadel360: Feel like you’re on campus, even when you can’t be Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:11:49 +0000 Normally each spring, The Citadel campus is bustling with high school students enjoying cadet-led tours, information sessions with their parents or staying overnight in the barracks for a Pre-Knob cadet]]>

Normally each spring, The Citadel campus is bustling with high school students enjoying cadet-led tours, information sessions with their parents or staying overnight in the barracks for a Pre-Knob cadet experience. Similarly, prospective evening undergraduate and graduate students are touring campus with The Citadel Graduate College team and meeting faculty in their chosen areas of study.

COVID-19 put an end to those experiences in the spring of 2020, but it won’t stop prospective cadets and students from getting a feel for the iconic Citadel campus.

That’s where The Citadel360 virtual campus tour can help.

Newly developed to provide a interactive experience for prospective students and their families unable to visit in person, The Citadel360 photos put the viewer at the center of a panoramic image the viewer controls and moves around with the click of a mouse.

A cadet’s room, the checkerboard Padgett-Thomas Barracks quad, the Bastin Finance Leadership Lab, the Earl Tennis Center, the historic Summerall Chapel and unforgettable spots likes like the giant Citadel ring statue and the stately Daniel Library can all be virtually visited.

“The Citadel360 provides an exciting new virtual experience for anyone wanting to see the beauty of our campus, and more importantly the spaces they would be using as a cadet or student,” said Kelly Brennan, Ph.D., associate provost of enrollment management for The Citadel. “We wish we could host everyone interested in attending in person, but this is a helpful alternative when traveling to campus is not possible.”

The Citadel360 is a work in progress with new elements being added regularly. To the right of the screen for each photo, virtual visitors can click on an arrow that provides a map showing where each element is located on campus.

Schedule a personal virtual information session

The college has other options as well to replace the tours that would have taken place in the spring.

“In place of physical tours, we are encouraging prospective cadets and students to schedule an individual video conference with one of our admissions specialists standing by to help,” said Brennan.

An online form to schedule a personal admissions video conference is available on the Office of Amissions website:

Update for accepted applicants

What about cadet recruits and students who have already applied and been admitted?

“Those students are being communicated with directly by the admissions team and are being provided information about next steps as it becomes available,” Brennan said. “Those who have already committed to attending in the fall and provided their deposits will be kept fully apprised of important dates and procedures through email and U.S. Postal Service mail.”

The Citadel gives consideration to all applicants who meet the requirements for admission, seeking to enroll well-rounded, mature students whose motivation and educational achievements indicate that they are prepared to do college level work.

A few of The Citadel’s points of pride:

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S.C. Democratic Primary brings noted guests; one candidate to campus Wed, 26 Feb 2020 20:00:31 +0000 Democratic presidential contender, Pete Buttigieg, Dr. Jill Biden and CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers visit campus before S.C. Democratic Primary.]]>

Remarking on a cadet’s Citadel Gospel Choir patch, Dr. Jill Biden, wife of presidential candidate and former Vice President, Joe Biden, asked the cadet if he would sing. Encouraged by his classmates during Biden’s visit to their political science class, Cadet Tyler Mitchell, also a member of the Citadel College Democrats, asked them all to stand up to sing The Citadel alma mater which they did with enthusiasm.

That was one highlight from Biden’s visit to the class taught by Prof. Joe P. Riley, Jr., Citadel alumnus, former Charleston major of 40 years and lifelong civil rights activist.

Biden spoke to cadets about her work as Second Lady with then First Lady, Michele Obama, to support military families. Biden also talked about her ongoing work to support service men and women when they return home from deployment, especially wounded warriors. The lifelong educator also addressed how she helps her community college students with food insecurity issues and prepares them to react in the case of an active shoot.

On a less serious note, when asked about the Democratic debate to be held in Charleston that night, Biden said, “You’ll see me during the debate tonight and remember, for two hours the families of all of the candidates all sitting together cannot do anything wrong like say a swear word or shout ‘are you kidding me?’ or the camera is sure to catch it. So you’ll see all of us and we’ll be thinking…remain calm and keep that little smile on and just think oh yes, this is democracy at work.”

Riley’s class, Charleston, South Carolina and National Politics, also included a visit by Bakari Sellers. Sellers is a CNN political analyst, a lawyer and a former state representative, the youngest ever elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Bakari Sellers is also the son of well-known civil rights activist, Dr. Cleveland Sellers, a longtime associate of Riley’s, who worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 35-year-old Sellers talked about his family, his father’s life changing experience as an unjustly jailed survivor of the Orangeburg Massacre, his own experiences working as a 22-year-old in the State House, and his predictions for the South Carolina Democratic Primary scheduled for
Feb. 29. Sellers predicted Joe Biden would come out on top, followed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigeig.

Also this week, the Pete for America campaign is holding an event on campus from 10 a.m. – Noon on Friday, Feb. 28, at the Holliday Alumni Center.

The Town Hall with Pete Buttigieg is open to the cadets, students, facuty, staff and the general public, but the organizers require advanced registration via this event link.

Citadel announces Class of 2020 commencement speakers Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:11:09 +0000 Citadel Commencement Speakers 2020Citadel Commencement Speakers 2020The South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2020 commencement will take place at 9 a.m., Saturday May 9, at McAlister Field House. About 500 cadet graduates and veteran day students will be addressed by this year's commencement speaker, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC (Ret.).]]> Citadel Commencement Speakers 2020Citadel Commencement Speakers 2020

The South Carolina Corps of Cadets Class of 2020 commencement will take place at 9 a.m., Saturday May 9, at McAlister Field House. About 500 cadet graduates and veteran day students will be addressed by this year’s commencement speaker, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC (Ret.).

Dunford served as the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military adviser to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council from 2015 – 2019.

Prior to becoming chairman, Dunford served as the 36th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from 2010 to 2012 and was Commander, International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Dunford graduated from Saint Michael’s College and was commissioned in 1977. He has served as an infantry officer at all levels, to include command of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and command of the 5th Marine Regiment during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

Dunford also served as the Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Marine Division, Marine Corps Director of Operations, and Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations. He commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the Commander, Marine Forces U.S. Central Command.

Dunford’s Joint assignments include duty as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief of the Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J-5), and Vice Director for Operations on the Joint Staff (J-3).

A graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger School, Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the U.S. Army War College, Dunford also earned master’s degrees in Government from Georgetown University and in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Citadel Graduate College commencement speaker: Anderson “Andy” D. Warlick, Citadel Class of 1979

Anderson “Andy” D. Warlick

The Citadel Graduate College commencement exercises will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 9 in McAlister Field House. The graduation speaker will be Anderson “Andy” D. Warlick, the chairman and CEO of Parkdale Inc.

Warlick is considered one of the most innovative leaders in the textile industry, particularly with regard to sustainability and environmental responsibility, including Parkdale’s patent-pending process that allows polyester and other synthetic materials to biodegrade like natural materials, resulting in less oceanic pollution. Parkdale is the world’s largest independent producer of cotton and cotton-blend yarns and cotton consumer products for the health and beauty industry, and owner of the U.S. Cotton brand.

Warlick joined Parkdale Mills in 1984 and became president and CEO in 2001. Warlick is also part owner of the NBA basketball team, the Charlotte Hornets. He currently serves on the boards of Parkdale Inc., Kent Manufacturing, Inman Mills, the North Carolina Textile Foundation, and is lead director for SWM, Inc. (publicly traded NYSE). 

Warlick graduated from The Citadel in 1979 with a degree in business administration. He has served his alma mater in numerous capacities over the years, and is currently a member of The Citadel Foundation Board of Directors, a position he has held since 2013. In 2009, The Citadel honored Warwick an honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration for his optimism, leadership, and vision in service to his community and his alma mater.

Warlick is also a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development and of the National Cotton Council’s Leadership Program.

Some of his awards include:

  • 2012 J D Hicks Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Recipient of Long Leaf Pine Award
  • 2011 Spirit of the Carolinas Award (Gaston, NC Regional Chamber of Commerce)
  • 2010 Chapman Award, named in honor of James A. Chapman, Sr., James A. Chapman, Jr. and Joseph W. Chapman of Inman Mills. The Chapman Award was established by the Southern Textile Association to recognize individuals for exemplary service to the textile industry.
  • 2002 Cotton, Inc. Achievement Award
  • 2002 Leader of the Year – NC State College of Textiles

Warlick and his wife Pam reside in his hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina where Parkdale is headquartered. They have two adult children, Collins and Davis.

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Family of 2016 alumnus still unsure about what happened a year after his disappearance during High Sierra hike Mon, 24 Feb 2020 21:27:16 +0000 A year after Marine and Citadel '16 alumnus disappears during High Sierra hike, family still unsure what happened.]]>

Photo above courtesy of the United States Marine Corps

Note: Matthew Kraft graduated from The Citadel in 2016. Upon graduating, Kraft was awarded the Lt. Dan Malcomb Sword in recognition of Kraft’s leadership and dedication while a member of The Citadel Naval ROTC unit. Additionally, Kraft was an exemplary student, earning Gold Stars, President’s List and Dean’s List accolades repeatedly while attending The Citadel. He graduated with a degree in Political Science. Additionally, Kraft was a member of the elite senior cadet drill team, The Summerall Guards, who are selected after months of physical training and drilling competitions.

View a photo gallery provided by one of Kraft’s classmates and fellow Summerall Guards, 1st Lt. Tyler Treadaway, currently serving as an Apache helicopter pilot for the United States Army in Hawaii.

As seen in the Orange County Register, by Erika I. Ritchie

Every night, Greg Kraft turns on an electric candle that sits in the window of his family’s Connecticut home.

“I turn it on and I say, ‘God Bless Matt,’ ” Kraft said Friday, Feb. 21, his voice choked with emotion. “In the morning I turn it off and say ‘God Bless Matt.’

The candle, in the upstairs middle dormer of his Williamsburg Cape Cod-style home, is lighted so his son, Capt. Matthew Kraft, can find his way back.

Matthew Kraft, a platoon leader with the 1st Battalion/7th Marines at Twentynine Palms, part of the 1st Marine Division based at Camp Pendleton, disappeared after taking leave from the Marine Corps for a two-week backcountry ski trip along the High Sierra Route starting Feb. 24, 2019.

He had planned the rugged trek for his pre-deployment leave, before his unit was to depart for Afghanistan.

The Sierra High Route parallels the John Muir Trail, with elevations ranging from 9,000 to 11,500 feet. The nearly 200-mile hike that began in the Inyo Forest near Lone Pine was supposed to be completed over 10 days, and Kraft had notified family and the Marine Corps that he expected to arrive at Bridgeport March 4 or 5.

Matthew Kraft spoke with his father for the last time two days before setting out on his hike and Greg Kraft told him to be safe.

Kraft has kept the candlelight vigil going since March 16, the day after the Marine Corps officially pronounced his 24-year-old infantryman son dead.

Massive multi-agency search

For more than a week, 13 agencies — including the Marine Corps from the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport — searched for Matthew Kraft.

His rental vehicle was found near Grays Meadows campground above Independence on March 8. On March 9, a ground search was halted after rescuers came across massive avalanche debris fields and officials with the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department declared conditions too risky for search crews to continue.

They shifted to an aerial search, focusing on the Sequoia and Kings National Park which extends along approximately 70 miles of the Sierra High Route. When thermal imaging from low-flying aircraft picked up a heat spot, Greg Kraft and his family were hopeful that Matthew Kraft might be found. But upon closer inspection, search crews found it was a hibernating bear.

“That’s when I came to grips with it,” said Greg Kraft. “It’s also the day (March 15) the Marine Corps calls the date of death.”

An official statement, released by the Marine Corps on April 11, said Matthew Kraft died after being “overcome by severe winter storms.”

Kraft was posthumously promoted from 1st Lt. to the rank of Captain.

n August, with most of the snow melted and the granite rocks exposed along the sub-alpine terrain, Greg Kraft, his wife, Roxanne and daughter, Ashley, saw a chance to search once more and possibly end the pain of waiting for a definitive answer.

But despite hundreds of fliers being handed out to hikers in the area and search teams combing for evidence, there was still no sign of Matthew Kraft.

In September, the Kraft family held a memorial service for Matthew Kraft near their home, at the First Congregational Church of Washington. More than 250 people came to pay their respects in the small New England town of 3,300.

The event was held to acknowledge the loss and to allow friends and family to say goodbye.

“The interim period was tough as people didn’t know how to discuss …  ‘Are they still looking?’ ‘What’s the plan?’ ‘What are the next steps?’ ‘We’re praying for his safe return,’ ” said Greg Kraft.

“It seemed it was time to allow everyone to grieve.”

In a 56-page memorial book compiled by the Kraft family, relatives and friends described Matthew Kraft as a sweet and honest young boy, a responsible and driven teen at Kent School — a private college preparatory school — and an incredibly fit and conscientious officer-in-the-making at the Citadel military college in South Carolina.

His Marine colleagues praised him for being an exceptional officer, unlike any they had ever met.

“Many Marines say they love the Marine Corps,” wrote 1st Lt. Isaiah Jurado, a platoon leader in the same company with Kraft. “They get tattoos of the (eagle, globe and anchor) on their chests and put stickers on their cars to let everyone know. But a special kind of Marine needs no words, symbols or proclamations to describe their love for the Corps. Their love is found in late nights at the office, their stoicism in harsh conditions, genuine concern for subordinates and an obstinate adherence to what is right, regardless of the situation. These Marines live on through their influence and deeds, setting the example for the rest to come. Matt was one of these Marines.”

A meticulous plan

Matthew Kraft received approval from the Marine Corps before setting off on his backcountry trek. Typical leave plans include a list of locations where the Marine intends to stay while away from base and information on how the Marine might be reached if needed.

“He had very meticulously planned the trip, he loved the outdoors and skiing,” said Jurado, who had offered to pick Kraft up at his Bridgeport destination.

Jurado, 28, left Los Angeles March 3, where he was visiting family, and drove along U.S. Route 395 which runs along the Eastern Sierra. As he glanced at the mountain range, he recalled, he had full confidence in his friend’s ability to navigate the remote terrain and austere weather conditions.

Jurado, who had met Matthew Kraft a year earlier, was impressed with Kraft’s innate ability as a platoon officer and Marine.

“He was so focused,” Jurado said. “He was a standout guy in the truest sense. He knew what he was doing. He was so confident in himself.”

That confidence resonated with Jurado, so when he didn’t hear from his friend on the day he was expected to arrive in Bridgeport, he wasn’t concerned. Matthew Kraft had taken extra rations and built in several days in case of changes he might encounter.

But on March 5, when Jurado still hadn’t heard from him, he decided to head toward the trailhead near Bridgeport where the two had planned to meet. It was a calm snowy day, he recalled. A storm had just passed and he could feel the makings of another storm in the air.

He wanted to cover as much ground as he could before the next storm arrived.

“I drove to the trailhead and stayed there for most of the day,” he said. It was a call from Greg Kraft, Jurado said, that “raised the flag.”

“Maybe he bailed out along the route, maybe he hunkered down in the storms,” Jurado said. “I started thinking through scenarios and I wanted to stay positive.”

Remembering a friend

Jimmy Lozano, a 71-year-old Vietnam veteran who shared Matthew Kraft’s love of mountaineering and was a neighbor of the Marine’s in Twentynine Palms, was among those who shared fond memories with the Kraft family.

“Although there is a big gap in age difference, we connected in a tight friendship,” the Long Beach native wrote to the Krafts. “Matt was, and still is in my book, a friend beyond any possible definition Webster’s dictionary can come up with. I’m completely heartbroken to the fact that Matt’s disappearance is becoming reality.”

Lozano and Kraft spent a lot of time talking about the mountains, he said.

Kraft was an avid mountaineer and told his friend of a 14-day hike he made of the Cohos Trail that goes from New Hampshire to Canada. He hiked 40 peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and had plans to hike the Appalachian Trail. Kraft had twice gone through mountaineering training with the Marine Corps at Bridgeport, preparing for high altitudes and austere conditions.

Lozano told Kraft about mountains surrounding the base and talked about training opportunities for what he called Kraft’s “bucket list” goal of hiking the Sierra High Route.

Each weekend, Lozano said, Kraft took trips into local mountains. He also had hiked the Sierra High Route in the summer of 2018 to get an idea of what the trail would be like.

“He showed me pictures of catching trophy-sized brook trout and setting up his tent in the backcountry,” Lozano said. “He said the area was beautiful and he had it in his mind to hike there ever since he came to California.”

When Lozano found out Kraft was planning to do the trek alone in the winter of 2019, he cautioned him.

“I told him I wouldn’t do it alone,” Lozano said. “The severity of the Sierras is a lot different than the East Coast with avalanches. He told me, ‘I’ve got it pre-planned and I’m going for it.”

A final resting place

Now, the Kraft family has purchased a gravesite and ordered a headstone. They hope that the site may one day be the final resting spot for Matthew Kraft and where his ancestors will remember him. On the headstone, the family has engraved: Aug. 23, 1994 – 2019.

Though Greg Kraft said he will never have closure until his son is found, he hopes that one day he at least will determine exactly when he died.

“They (the search team) spent a lot of time at the pass,” he said. “He would have hit that on day one or two. I think he got through the pass. I think he got through bad weather. He was an animal. He was strong as a moose. He traveled 30 miles a day in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It would put a date on when he really passed.

“Without that, it’s going to be three weeks of mourning every year,” he added. “It’s 365 days of mourning now.”

Photos in gallery below courtesy of 1st Lt. Stephen Tyler Treadaway, United States Army, Citadel Class of 2016.

A visit from the Vice President of the United States of America Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:21:38 +0000 Vice President Mike Pence waives to crowd in McAlister Field House at The CitadelVice President Mike Pence waives to crowd in McAlister Field House at The CitadelA look back at Vice President Mike Pence's visit to The Citadel.]]> Vice President Mike Pence waives to crowd in McAlister Field House at The CitadelVice President Mike Pence waives to crowd in McAlister Field House at The Citadel

The 48th Vice President of the United States of America, Mike Pence, spoke to The South Carolina Corps of Cadets on the afternoon of February 13, 2020, in McAllister Field House on The Citadel campus.

Cadet Col. Richard “Ben” Snyder, Regimental Commander for the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, presents a gift to Vice President Mike Pence while Governor Henry McMaster applauds. McAllister Field House, Feb 13, 2020

After being introduced and accepting a gift from Cadet Col. Richard “Ben” Snyder, Mr. Pence drew raucous cheers when he said:

I really couldn’t be more grateful to address such an extraordinary group of young men and women. And as a small token of my appreciation, I have instructed the Commandant to extend amnesty for all qualified candidates — (applause) — effective immediately.

At The Citadel, sometimes the president of the college, or high ranking officials such as the governor or a visiting vice president of the United States grant “amnesty” to the Corps, meaning many cadets with common infractions will not serve their confinements or walk all of their tours.

Speaking for almost 30 minutes, Mr. Pence reflected on how the college prepares cadets for a service-focused life:

Just as important as the lives you fought to defend are the ideals you sought to preserve, that of a citizen-soldier, always disciplined, always honest, always true to your core values honor, duty, respect. They are the hallmarks of every graduate of The Citadel.

Men and women of your caliber could’ve gone to any school in the nation, but you chose the harder path.  Even when you were a lowly “knob,” you swore to uphold The Citadel honor code that the “Cadet does not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”

Vice President Mike Pence (upper right/podium) recognizes Cadet AnaMalae Tia (standing, lower left), for being the first military nurse graduating from The Citadel’s new nursing program.

The Vice President also took time to recognize two particular cadets.

The South Carolina Corps of Cadets truly is full of amazing Americans, like a senior in Kilo Company, Army ROTC graduate from American Samoa.

I’m told that when she was growing up, she used to help her family take care of her great-grandmother, and that experience inspired her to become a nurse.

But when she was debating where to go to college, it didn’t take her long to decide where to go.  Her father had served in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years, and she was drawn to The Citadel’s sense of discipline and accountability, as I was told.

And she made the most of her opportunities here.  Today, she is a Gold Star/Deans List cadet, and her parents and her community couldn’t be more proud.  Would you join me in recognizing an incredible young woman who, this May, will become The Citadel’s first Army nurse, Cadet AnaMalae Tia.

Following the speech, Cadet Tia was interviewed by WCIV-TV about being recognized by the Vice President

The Vice President continued, recognizing Cadet Paul Rhyne.

Or like another member of this corps, like a pre-med biology major from, actually, Irmo, South Carolina.  Last year, I’m told, he was named one of the top 10 Army ROTC cadets in America, and it’s not hard to see why.
A member of the Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society, Pre-Med Society, and even the Citadel Flying Club.  And just before he graduates in May, he’s going to accept a commission in the United States Army.  Join me in thanking and recognizing Cadet Paul Rhyne.  Where are you, Paul?  (Applause.)

Cadet Paul Rhyne (standing) after being recognized by Vice President Mike Pence for being named one of the top 10 Army ROTC cadets in America.

The truth is, AnaMalae and Paul are just emblematic of each and every one of you.  You all have your own stories.  You all answered your own calling to be here.  You answered the call of citizen-soldiers sworn to uphold the highest ideals.

You’ve gone through some rigorous years of training here at The Citadel — a time of great personal discipline — I challenge each one of you: Don’t lose that.  Discipline is the foundation of all accomplishment.  Be an example of self-discipline to the men and women you lead, whether that’s in our armed forces or whether in private life.  You’ll inspire them by your discipline without saying a word.

To lead others, you must lead yourself first.  And so cultivate — cultivate self-discipline.  It wasn’t just for The Citadel; it’s for a lifetime of accomplishment.  Cultivate all of these virtues, carry them from here, as you’ve already begun to do in this great school.  And I know, like so many generations before, the men and women gathered here will lead lives of consequence and distinction.

So, lead with integrity.  Be an example to those around you.  Serve with honor.  Take care of all of those that are ever under your care and set a personal and professional example.

Vice President Mike Pence meets with Citadel cadets from Indiana behind the scenes on campus

While visiting campus, Mr. Pence was introduced to a group of cadets from his home state of Indiana during a private session and interacted with campus leadership. See more photos in the gallery below.

Read the full transcript of Mr. Pence’s speech provided by the Office of the Vice President, or watch a video of the speech below.