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Class of 1969 45th Year Class Reunion

Bob Boles called me a while ago and asked if I would write a little something about why one should come back to Lewisburg for a reunion. This October is the class of 1969’s 45th anniversary of our graduation from GMS. My original intent was to compare leaving GMS after 3 years to my retirement this past May from Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM), where I taught for 28 years.

But it is really impossible to compare the two, GMS and MSUM. Though I have successfully enjoyed my time here, it pales against the 3 years spent in Lewisburg. I have made strong connections with MSUM and Fargo-Moorhead over these years, but none will hold the bonds made 45 years ago with you guys, the school and community. So why go back to this 45th reunion?

In 2008 Angelo Damante and I had a brief email exchange after Dave Ritchie received the GMS Hall of Fame Award. Angelo made a telephone appearance during Captain Ritchie’s presentation and I wanted to let him know how much it meant to everyone in the audience.

I wrote, “Angelo, you hit it spot on in addressing what all those men had done for us during our stay in Lewisburg, even those moments when we couldn't stand being there. Just think of the enormous responsibility they assumed while being our teachers, our leaders and our guides through those years! Responsibility we, as cadets, were too young and immature to recognize.”

Angelo wrote back: “The years go by so fast, and we tend to forget so much, due to the fact that we are tending to our daily existence…”

He spoke of the faculty members at GMS and of what … “many of us went through, but maybe didn’t appreciate at the time. ... I really attribute any success that I have had in this life to the years at the Brier. They truly made me who I am…” I feel sincerely lucky that I (and my son Greg who resides in DC) were in the audience that day to hear Angelo’s call and watch Dave Ritchie receive his award.

To mirror Angelo: What we did there at GMS molded us into who we are today and in many ways our success.

About 8 years after our graduation in 1969, I made it back to Lewisburg while on a ski trip to Snowshoe. After that I attended another reunion probably around 1994. And I think that was it … until 2008. Since then, I have been back at every reunion that I could attend. I have rekindled friendships and I have made new ones. I have connected with faculty members who actually remembered me, and some that look at me in puzzlement. Maybe they were looking at me with the same look that long time ago.

GMS Alums such as Bob Boles (’70), Jim Dodway (’69), Jim Downer (’71), Chuck ‘Bruce’ Hartman (’70), Dan Pennington (‘69), Tony Sadler (’70), Sam Sardis (’70), Pat Smith (’68), Butch Wingo (’70) and faculty such as Herb Pearis (’56) all have been instrumental on my returning time and again to Lewisburg each Fall, some years more than that. And many of us have taken an active role in the GMSAA organization, trying to keep GMS alive in some small but important way.

So, why this attachment after 45 years?

Though closed in 1972, GMS lives on physically in the front yard and the main structure of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. A drive past the mess hall and D stoop will bring back a host of memories. And while the dorms and auditorium are not so recognizable, one stroll down the main or the upper hallways or through the Tower will bring a on a flood of recollections.

If you still have your yearbook, take some time and flip through it. There is a heading on page 5 of the 1969 “Brier Patch” that reads, “It is a Spirit That Frees Us and Enables Us To Believe in the Future, To Live with Zest—The Free Spirit”. Truly this is a statement describing our generation. The Free Spirit: free to learn, to accomplish, to compete, to get together, and to make friends. That is who we were then and are now.

So, where are all those guys in that yearbook we had so much in common with? We were and are in such a small club, that it is a shame we have not stayed in closer contact. Where are you Raymundo Rodriguez, Ed Dillabaugh, Pete Zuhars, Roy Taylor, Ralph Gallo, Lacinio Pichardo and Quentin Bullock?

Think about the bonding we went through. What our daily regiment meant to us: reveille, retreat and taps that ruled our day; eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with 300 of your closest friends; daily bathroom routines that other’s not in our boots would ever understand. Think of the close camaraderie amongst all of us no matter what our age, social strata or school rank. One would never see that outside the walls of an institution such as ours. Remember the Final Dress Parade and Silent Drill?

When I think of GMS, I think mainly of good friends and good times we had together. GMS football with fall colors and smells that will never be matched anywhere else; cold walks to the basketball games and snows that coated our campus in a winter splendor. The rebirth of the hills each spring is something I miss even today and will always cherish. Yet, we all experienced some tough times and major homesickness, being away from home, family and friends, maybe away from your girl. But we made it through.

October will quickly be upon us. So come back to Lewisburg this fall October 16-19 and maybe find out what happened to your roommates and friends, see what GMS has evolved into, chat with some of the faculty members and coaches. Come and share some good food and stories. And OH YES, those stories get longer, bigger and better every year!

Hey, Pennington remember when Dodway….

MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR STAN COMBS '56

A memorial service for Samuel Stanley Combs, Cadet Major 1956, will be held on Saturday, May 17th, 2014 at the Calvary Methodist Church in Richlands, WV. Richlands is located outside of Lewisburg, rt. 60 west. The service will commence at 11 AM with Stan’s ashes buried in the church cemetery. Following the service a reception will be held in Church basement. Stan’s children will be here for the service and to meet as many of their fathers remaining friends as possible.

Please assist in helping get the word out to any and all that might have an interest in the service. I am concerned those members of the band in ’53, ’54 & 57 be notified. Please as you can.

The service is in keeping with Stan’s wishes.

President’s Message, March, 2014

It is an honor to greet my fellow alumni for the first time in these pages as your new President. I begin by thanking our Board of Directors for their dedicated service in leading our Association and for the confidence they have expressed in me by electing me to this responsibility. Thanks to Larry Springer, Charlie Duncan and Fred Woitscheck for their five years of service as Directors as we welcome new Directors Bill Deck, Denton Staley and Sam Woods. Very special thanks to Grey Webb, who has lead our Association as President for the past two years. Grey has successfully initiated several important changes in the governance and operation of our organization. He has kept the officers and directors involved and informed these past two years, which has insured a smooth transition of leadership. We are grateful for his service to our organization.

I am sure many of you have had the same experience as I when you try to explain to non-GMS friends about our Association. They marvel at the facts that the alumni of a school that closed 41 years ago: (1) continue to return to the site of their unique common experience each October, (2) have a vibrant organization with a museum and memorial plaza and (3) are actively sharing our values with new generations of West Virginia youth through our GLI Program. We are truly a very special organization that has a great deal to be proud of and to celebrate.

Change is inevitable, and this year is no exception. After more than 20 years as our Association Secretary, Herb Pearis has retired from that position. Herb has been so much more than that title would suggest. He has been the face and voice of the organization, the one that answers the phone, the institutional memory, the editor of the Alumni Record and the magic hand behind the scenes that insured that everything went smoothly throughout the year and especially at our reunions. For those who were not with us at the reunion, Herb and Joann were recognized and honored with the gift of a trip to the Canadian Rockies. If you are interested in participating in this gift, details are provided elsewhere in this Alumni Record. Herb will continue to help us with responsibilities that require a Lewisburg presence, but will give up major responsibilities of the position.

Bob Boles, ‘70 has been elected as the new Secretary of our Association and we have a new telephone number. The new number is (304) 520-3214. The phone will be answered by a voice which will identify the GMSAA and offer you the options of connecting to myself, Bob Boles, Herb Pearis or Beaman Cummings, Executive Director of GLI. The call will then be automatically transferred to each of our designated numbers (home, office or mobile). Please make a note of this number.
Bob Boles, I and others have begun working on the 2014 Reunion and look forward to another successful gathering in Lewisburg October 16 – 19, 2014. So, mark your calendars now and “Come Back to the Brier”. We look forward to seeing you in Lewisburg October 16 – 19, 2014.

Greenbrier Forever,

Bill Isbister ‘52

Principle-Based Leadership by Jim Anderson

Principle-Based Leadership by Jim Anderson is now available for purchase in the Cadet Store in Hard Cover.

“In ‘Principle-Based Leadership’ Jim Anderson speaks eloquently to the most important qualities and actions that result in the creation of outstanding leaders… This book provides a complete practical program for enhancing the leadership abilities of individuals as well as organizations.” – Jack Box Regional Chairman Newmark Grubb Knight Frank

About the Author:

Jim Anderson has coached and developed hundreds of leaders and professionals in Fortune 500 Companies and public sector organizations since 1980. He has conducted countless seminars and professional development programs on leadership, management, professional success and related topics as well as served on the faculty within the Michigan State University Graduate School of Business and the University of Colorado in Boulder. Jim is co-founder of the Greenbrier Leadership Institute, GreenbrierLeadership.com, in Lewisburg, West Virginia. He also founded MSR Corporation, an executive managementconsulting business in 1980 operating in Colorado. Jim and his family reside in the Denver area.

Bob Keene, KMI & GMS Connection

8/8/13

Major Bob Keene:
Kentucky Military Institute & the Greenbrier Military School Connection

Among my GMS memories are the hours spent in the, always entertaining, Public Speaking/Speech classes taught by the late, beloved Major Bob Keene. Maj. Keene was affectionately referred to, by many of us scurrilous, misguided cadets, as “B.S. Bob” because of his many “engaging” chronicles. Classes always began with the Major asking a cadet to come to the podium and present a speech, based on a Reader’s Digest article, read the night before.

Invariably, at some point during each class, Major Keene would interrupt the speaker with his patented “That reminds me of the time....”, quickly digressing into a soliloquy based on a “flashback” from the good Major’s earlier days.

A few examples of these chronicles were: “The Louisville Flood of 1937” when he reputedly cruised through the flooded streets of Louisville, Ky. in a PT Boat with the Kentucky National Guard; or, the one about “The Great Okeechobee Hurricane” disaster of the late 1920’s in which the Major recounted a friend’s recollection having visited the area around the destroyed Hoover Dike in the days following the storm, which killed over 2,000 laborers and farm families; and, a particularly interesting story, more to the point of this writing, a “moving account” from his days, during the late 1920’s, at KMI (Kentucky Military Institute), during which time he befriended a young KMI cadet named Victor Mature. Victor, the son of an Italian immigrant, was being mistreated by other cadets due to his Italian, immigrant heritage. As you will surely recall, Victor Mature later became a famous Hollywood actor, who starred in such movies as “The Robe”, “Demetrius and the Gladiators”, “Samson and Delilah” and many others.

Recently I checked the bio on Victor Mature and found that he had, in fact, at-
tended KMI, from 1928-29, along with another actor, Jim Backus of “Mr. Magoo” and “Gillingan’s Island” fame. After reading the bio, I emailed the KMI Alumni Association
asking if they had any information about a former KMI cadet or teacher with the name, Bob Keene. I received responses from a couple of former KMI alumni, corroborating the Major’s story, told to us back in that 1965 GMS classroom.

So, to the late Major Bob Keene, I hope he will “look down” and except my apol-ogy for having referred, to him, in absentia, of course, as “B.S. Bob”; and, I know, now, that all his other fascin-ating accounts were, I’m absolutely, positively, TRUE, as well. And I thoroughly enjoyed everyone one of those stories and the time spent in his class.

Check out the following website for other interesting and famous KMI Alumni.

http://www.kmialumni.org/

I’m indebted to former KMI cadets, Tommy Young and Jim Flora for responding to my emails and providing the history on Maj. Bob Keene’s early days at KMI.
Tommy Young
KMI History Project
P.O. Box 338
Mt. Carmel, IL 62863
618-262-4423
tryii821@frontier.com

Jim Flora
KMI
Class of 1962
P.O. Box 605
Hiawassee, GA 30546
706-896-8040
770-883-4493 Cell
Webmaster at www.kmialumni.org
jim@kmialumni.org

1930 Photo of Cadets including Jim Backus & Victor Mature
http://www.kmialumni.org/vm-jb.html

Bob Keene at KMI info emailed by former KMI cadet Tommy Young.:

Information on Bob Keene is limited - he entered KMI as a cadet in Sept 1925 and graduated in June 1926. Records indicate that he remained at KMI for a few years - Victure Mature entered KMI in Sept 1928. I have a note that Keene was pictured in the 1928-29 yearbook - that would indicate that they were there at the sametime. I quess it is possible that he taught Mature while he was a cadet - Mature was only there one year.

KMI President formerly at GMS: Information provided by KMI alumnus, Tommy Young.

Incidentially - the president of KMI and the Commandant had both been on the faculty at Greenbrier before being KMI in the 1920s. Four members of the faculty made the move to Lyndon, Ky. in 1925-1926. The people who made the move From Greenbrier were Charles B. Richmond, Charles E. Hodgin, Samuel Marshall, and Willis Groseclose. KMI was purchased in 1924 by Richmond, Hodgin and Marshall. Marshall would sell his interest at some point but all four men remained connected to the school until the late 1960s.

Victor Mature at KMI:
Victure Mature entered KMI in Sept 1928 and Mature was only there one year..

Jim Backus at KMI:
His bio indicates he attended KMI in the late 1920’s and a photo of KMI cadets includes
both Victor Mature and Jim Backus.

Thank’s, Herb, for all you do for the GMS Alumni Association.

Mark Wellman

Charles Edward Stokes Elected to GMSAA Hall of FAme

Charles Edward Stokes, Jr., Colonel United States Army (Retired). Greenbrier Military School (GMS) Class of 1956. He came to GMS from Buffalo, WV and sent four year at GMS. He served as Executive Officer of Band Company, playing football on the Junior Varsity (High School) Team. He played trumpet and a very distinguishable revile and taps. He currently resides at Holden Beach, NC.
Charles has a Bachelor’s Degree from West Virginia State (WVSU) and a Master’s from Louisiana State University in Political Science. He is also a graduate of Senior Services College (War College with less that 2% selection from all services) and the Foreign Service Institute
His teaching experience includes International Relation and African Affairs, Campbell University, Military Science, WVSU, Comparative Political Systems and Government & Politics of Latin America at the United States Military Academy (West Point), and University of Maryland (Overseas Program, Korea).
Charles military career spans over 25 years. He is a Viet Nam Veteran. His Awards and Decorations include Master Parachute Badge, Ranger Tab, Bronze Star with V device, Air Medal. Legion of Merit, and two Purple Hearts. Most of Charles’ service was as a Tactical Strategic Intelligence Officer (TSIO) which includes Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs (PSYOPOS-CA). The standards for the Branch assignment are very high and include Combat Arms Basic and Advance Course, Airborne, Masters Degree, Language skills (reading, writing, and speaking). Advancement in the Branch includes service as a Detachment Commander, Staff Officer at the Battalion level, Instructor in a Service School, Staff Officer at a Brigade or higher organization. Officer in a Special Forces Group, Headquarters Company Commander, and Political Military Affairs Officer in a Psychological Operations Command, and Propaganda Officer .
Charles’ last active duty command was Deputy Commander of the Special Warfare Center and School, FT. Bragg, NC his duties included overseeing curricula directed toward engaging Special Operations in the Global War on Terror. He was responsible for the entire Special Warfare Center and not just the Special Forces School.
To truly appreciate and understand Charles’ contribution to our national interest, one must look at the dates of his service, locations, political and historical significance, and the state of world affairs. 1964-65: Commander of the 681st Intelligence Corps Detachment, Dominican Republic: 1967-68: Commander, 181 MI Company, 101st Airborne Division, Republic of South Vietnam, and operational control of the 2nd South Vietnam Military Intelligence Company; 1978-80: Commander, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Of which there is only one active duty Battalion in the entire United States Army; 1980-82: Commander, Recruiting Battalion, WV achieveing a successful rating of 8th out of 56 (previously the rate was 52 out of 56); 1982-85: Defense Attache, Guatemala, during a time when Nicaragua was near collapse and falling under communist control, Honduras was in conflict with the Contras and El Salvador was having civil strife, and the Northern half of Guatemala was being overrun by communist guerillas.; 1985-86: Director of International studies at John F. Kennedy Center, Ft. Bragg, NC; 1990-93: 1st Gulf War, Charles was selected as support manager, wrote execution , alert, defense plans for expatriates, and evacuation plans for the Saudi families, Support Manager for Saudi Naval Base, Jubail, Saudi, Arabia; 2000-2002: Republic of Nigeria, source of 17% of the United States’ crude oil , recognizing the need for a stable and civilian government. Charles provided consultation to reform Nigerian Armed Forces and wrote their National Security Strategy and Defense Policy; 2003-07: Lead seventy monitors and support staff investigating allegations of abuse and atrocities against civilian in Sudan and Kenya. Charles considers his assignment as Deputy and later Project Manager of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team his most noble position ever held; 2006-2007: Ethiopia, neighboring Somalia and considered one of the most dangerous areas of the world. Somalia was previously controlled by warlords and is best known for the incident of “Blackhawk Down”. Somalia is now controlled by Ethiopia, and Charles was charged with Curriculum and Coordinator and Principal Instructor in the Ethiopean Defense and Staff College; 2008-09: Charles was hired by the Department of Defense as Program Manager, Special Operations in Zamboanga, Philippines. The area is an Al Qaeda stronghold on the Sullu Sea which is considered by many as the second most dangerous region in the world for piracy and second only to the Horn of Africa/Somalia.
Charles has had a most interesting career and has brought credit to GMS, his country and himself. We are proud to name him to the GMS Wall of Honor.

President’s Message for August Record

Written by Grey Webb:

As this will be my last President's Message for the Alumni Record, I’d like to write about one of my favorites subjects: History.

Last year we celebrated 200 years of education in Lewisburg but more importantly from our perspective, the 200th anniversary of the founding of what would eventually become Greenbrier Military School. This year West Virginia celebrates their 150th year of statehood. Both anniversaries are connected and are the reason we all share this common identity, namely Greenbrier Military School. When Dr. John McElhenney made his way north from South Carolina to the small village of Lewisburg in what was then Western Virginia, he had no way of knowing the long lasting consequences of his actions. Often the greatest and most important exploits tend to go unnoticed at the time. To be sure Dr. McElhenney could not have envisioned the thousands of young men who would be directly influenced by his commitment to eduction. Even today his legacy transcends history and directly influence medical students at WVSOM.

Men and women make history everyday although the significance of their endeavors will not be known or appreciated for some time. I’m reminded of that humble but well crafted line from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” History has an elegant way of filtering out the important from the mere inconsequential.

As is often quoted in these pages: “Something important happened here.” Certainly to those of us who attended GMS, this place is special. These grounds may not be hallowed, but for those of us who experienced Greenbrier, they come close. We lived here, we learned here and we gained a sense of self here. The institution’s original mission itself may have changed, but young people continue to live here, learn here and by all means gain a sense of self here. Life continues and history will record it, great or small; good or bad.

In the span of our lifetime we’ve witnessed a transformation not only in our selves but in the very institution that provided that history. Our school’s history will endure as long as we honor it. Change is inevitable and how we deal with it affects us directly.

History is about our yearning to identify with the past. It is about our desire to hold on to some stability and the perception of continuity. We arrive here in Lewisburg every October desiring to find a source to our present identity. We live again in the 1950s or 60s searching for fading echoes of our beloved Greenbrier. In many ways they were never lost, only hidden away in a long forgotten memory that springs to life on the Front Formation Court during Retreat or at Old Stone Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning.

However you define history, Greenbrier Military School played an important role by endowing our country with men of truth, duty and honor. Our Hall of Fame comprises only a small sample of those men. From our halls came future leaders in the Armed Forces, the professions, business and industry spreading the character, discipline and leadership that was forged here. When we gather again this October we can stand tall knowing that we are indeed part of history.

And now, like so many other chapters in our lives, our Association is about to turn the page on yet one more. I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve GMSAA, an honor well above my pay grade. To borrow from the Hippocratic Oath, my first duty was to do no harm. Your Association will be in excellent hands with President Bill Isbister. He brings a wealth of experience to the office and will lead our Association as we tread into uncharted waters. Our future is bright as our history is secure.

Alumni Record Article for Spring Edition

Written by Grey Webb:

Our reunion this past October celebrating the founding of our beloved Greenbrier Military School was a huge success. Record numbers were in attendance and the weather cooperated to make it a perfect weekend.

The reunion kicked off for many on Thursday evening at the Greenbrier Visitor’s Center. Herb over the years has always tried to add events to attract and entertain early arrivals and the Visitor’s Center proved to be a great venue for reuniting, socializing and making plans for the weekend.

The weekend officially began on Friday evening at our Retreat Formation. We were again entertained with a wonderful rendition of Greenbrier Forever played for us by the Greenbrier East High School Band. Special thanks to Beaman Cummings and his committee for organizing our Retreat Formations. It’s a perfect way to kick off our reunions. A wonderful dinner of prime rib followed and set the tone for what was to come.

Saturday morning’s special event was of course the appearance of Jim Justice,’70, owner of the Greenbrier Hotel and Resort, with his oversized check matching our own successful efforts in fundraising for our Greenbrier Leadership Institute. A special thanks to each one of you who contributed to this great effort. Because of you and Jim Justice, GLI now has the financial resources to implement new strategies and to reach more students.

The festivities continued Saturday evening at the Greenbrier Hotel with a wonderful dinner dance accompanied by the musical talents of Bobby Nicholas and his band. More than one person mentioned to me that we should try to plan another dinner dance at the Greenbrier in the near future. I’m sure memories of Final Balls long past circulated the banquet room.

Sunday morning’s church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian church topped what was the most anticipated and certainly the most attended reunion weekends in our thirty year history. The brass ensemble playing New Orleans style gospel jazz, singing the Recessional and listening to some great preaching, all made for a memorable service and a conclusion to an unforgettable reunion weekend.

Thanks to Herb and Phil for organizing and pulling off the big event. Let me assure you we’re not done. Several alumni asked me if this reunion was our “Final, Final Ball”. Absolutely not! We are going to continue to hold our reunion weekends the third weekend in October as long as there are able bodied alumni to attend. Certainly we want to provide the opportunity for all classes to celebrate their 50th Class Reunion. I’ve been told the Class of ’63 has already begun their plans for a weekend that will rival last years. It’s not too early to make plans for this year’s reunion. Mark your calendars now for October 17-20.

If you haven’t ordered the DVD History of GMS, please do so by visiting our website and going to the ‘Store’ tab. Bob Boles and his committee have produced an outstanding presentation describing the history of Greenbrier Military School. We now have a definitive documented record, one that will provide a source for additional chapters in the future. Once you view it you will see it was a labor of love

Congratulations to our new board members: Jorge’ Martinez, C.J. Richardson and Terry Byrnes. We’re looking forward to their input and counsel to help direct your Association for the next five years. Also, I would like to thank our outgoing directors, Jim Anderson, Gene Beard, Robert Gamba and Duff Smith. Their service to GMSAA has been exemplary and I know they will continue to provide advice and guidance to the board of directors. If you have an interest in serving on the board of directors, please contact Herb or myself. Your Association is only as good as the direction we receive from our membership.

I would like to extend my special thanks to our Vice President, Bill Isbister, for his tireless work in researching, coordinating and ultimately writing several grant requests for GLI. Grant writing is a new avenue for us in regards to fundraising. Bill is putting his professional background to work for our benefit, and we’re grateful for his expertise.

Board member Jose’ Acosta, working with Phil McLaughlin and our accountant, Courtney Smith, has worked diligently to prepare our annual operating budget and in so doing, has given us a clearer picture of where we are fiscally. Let me assure you, your board of directors takes our financial operations very seriously. We understand and appreciate the fiduciary responsibility you have placed in us and we will continue to maintain the finances of your Association in the most conservative and transparent manner possible.

Let me close by thanking all of you who attended our special reunion: Celebrating 200 years of Education in Lewisburg. We know Greenbrier Military School played the most significant role in that history.

The Greenbrier Military School Story DVD

The Greenbrier Military School Story DVD is now available for purchase in the Cadet Store.

Go back in time and enjoy this 45 minute documentary that presents the Greenbrier Military School Story: Celebrating 200 Years of Education in Lewisburg, WV.

Greenbrier Military School was part of the educational landscape of Lewisburg for many years. In 1812, Dr. John McElhenney established a school known as "The Old Brick Academy". This school was the foundational institution from which Greenbrier Military School was born. Young men were educated at Greenbrier in a structured, discipline environment living by the standards of Truth, Duty and Honor until it closed in 1972. Greenbrier changed the lives of many who attended the school over the years. This program tells the story of the school, the staff, and the cadets.

The DVD was produced by GMS alumni Phil McLaughlin ('58), Bob Boles ('70) and Mike Ruth ('69) with generous support from the GMSAA.

Reconnect, Reminisce, Celebrate

Written by Grey Webb, August 2012.

The long hot summer is quickly coming to an end and our annual GMSAA reunion, believe it or not, is just around the corner. As you know this October, we will be celebrating Two Hundred Years of Education in Lewisburg. In my opinion Greenbrier Military School played the most significant chapter in that 200 year history. We gather this year to celebrate that role. As Herb Pearis is apt to say: “Something important happened here.”

The fact that so many of us return every year to reconnect, reminisce and celebrate our shared experiences is proof that Greenbrier Military School played a very significant part in our early lives. Those few minutes every October on the front formation court at Retreat seems to set the stage for another great weekend. Stories retold of mischievous pranks, memories of football games played on a cool crisp Saturday afternoon, or just seeing an old friend for the first time in 40 years, are just a few of the things that make the third weekend of October in Lewisburg special.

Our common experience at GMS bonds us and we recall those memories in a blink of an eye. Mention Kiwi shoe polish and we quickly bring to mind that peculiar combination of aromas with Brasso; think demerits and we all recall the beat; hear gig line and we instantly arrange our belts. So much of our life as cadets at Greenbrier was the same as those who came before and after us, making it easy to relate with others at our reunions.

For those attending our GMSAA reunion this October for the first time, you will notice changes to the old ‘Brier Campus. Of course the main building stands with it’s dignified entrance as it has for over nighty years. However, the upper drill field is now the site of new and modern multi-use buildings that have been built to facilitate the ever growing student body of The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM). Where once young uniformed GMS Cadets formed for Retreat or stood at attention for Sunday Dress Parades, now young energetic medical students stroll the campus. Education in Lewisburg, WV continues it’s 200 year tradition.

Our old campus may have changed, but not the memories. The term “Greenbrier Spirit” is often heard at our reunions. I’m not sure what that means exactly. If you ask, I’m sure you will not receive the same answer from any two alumni. As with most alumni, it’s a personal thing. After these many years, the connections we make are more important to us; they seem more meaningful. GMSAA reunions provide that connection to our shared past. Please use this special occasion to attend and find out for yourself what the “Greenbrier Spirit” means to you.

One last thing. Herb always says that, “We do church the best.” Let me personally invite you to attend the Sunday morning church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church. Without a doubt, it will lift your Spirit and send you off wanting to return the following year. Can I get an Amen?

--Grey Webb

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