Greenbrier Remembrances

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Greenbrier Remembrances are a way for us to share your stories about "The Brier" and can be instantly posted here by any Registered User. You may edit or delete your remembrance at any time. Do you have anything to share? Maybe some memories of an old roommate? Give it a shot!

Please keep all posts positive, kind in spirit and with respect to all, politically impartial. Posts not adhering to these simple guidelines will be removed.

Letter to Mike Lee


(The letter below was sent in response to the Dec. 2023 email from Denton Staley to our community. CJ Richardson gave permission to post it here. --Mike Ruth)

Great letter and thank you for taking on the task of Secretary. I am good with continuing the newsletter by email. I will also speak for my brother, Dr. Thomas E. Richardson (58), a classmate of Herb's. Tom has macular degeneration, as do I, but Tom is legally blind; whereas I, have preserved some eyesight with injections into the retina. A science developed after Tom's eyesight was lost. A cruel loss for a member of the GMS rifle team in 1957 and 1958 and an avid fly-fisherman and deer hunter.

You may have heard that Mike Lee (64) has passed. Mike succumbed to his 10-year battle with cancer in December. Mike represented the best of us and his legacy will live on in his fine family. Below is part of a letter that I wrote to Mike when he started his cancer treatments 10 years ago.

"Hey Buddy,
I have been concerned about you. Grey Webb was able to get your hospital address so now I am relaying the powerful prayers and wishes of your friends who want so much that you will have a good recovery. We know that you are experiencing some complications after surgery, that is not unusual. You went into this with a positive attitude, and we all know you to be a strong man who will demonstrate to all of us once again how to overcome adversity and setbacks through sheer will power and love of family and friends. Further, I know that the love and support of Maggie, your children and your grandchildren add to your strength. Few men have the love and respect of friends that you have garnered. You are Mr. Lucky. So, with all that going for you, you are in a good position to pull through this arduous time and get back to your very well lived life.
Mike, you have always been a natural leader. People gravitate to you for many reasons. You are humorous with the rare insight of how to use your intellect to engage folks in a positive way that makes each one of them feel special. You can find your way through this confusing world and to translate for others how to negotiate the way through the tangles. So, once again you are taking on the difficult task of finding your way through the tough times of recovery through your strength, willpower and positive thought aided by the prayers of your family and friends.
Once you are released from the hospital, you will be on a diet. It will be sort of like walking the beat for misbehaving. As in the old days, I am going to walk some hours with you just for the company. "


CJ Richardson

Past Reunions


I have attended many of our reunions since 1972 when the School closed down. I have made many friends from other ckasses going clear back to 1955. Some have passed on.
I have to mention Jack Denny. He was such a great person. I always enjoyed spending time with him and Lois. He had to be a very Honorable Cadet.

Also John Todd, who was Band Company Commander and graduated in 1958. Last year (2022), we somehow got on the subject of sabers. He said that his had hung on the wall
for all those years. After talking for a while, he said that he would like to give it to me because he was sure I would take good care of it. My wife and I traveled to his home in Wytheville Virginia, and met with him and his wife. They showed me all of their chesterdrawers and other wooded furniture that John had made. They were all beautifully handcrafted. Before we left he told me he had cancer and was moving to Peach Tree Georgia, and would probably not being able to attend any more reunions.
This is one of the reasons I attend reunions. May The Greenbrier Spirit Live On !

Chuck Wilson Passes


May 28, 2023 Chuck Wilson Passed away from a recurring bout with cancer. He graduated from GMS in 1966. "C" company. His roommate Roland Bogart passed away a few years ago from brain cancer. He graduated from the University of Arkansas Law School and practiced law in Pikeville, Kentucky for several years. He. is survived by his wife Wanda Wilson, his son, Tommy Wilson, and his daughter Katie Wilson. His surviving siblings are Steve Wilson, Sharon Proctor, and Kim wilson.
Rest in Peace my brother.

Room Mate


Let's go back to Sept 1956 when postage stamps were .03, gasoline was .30 a gallon. Loaf of bread was .18 and the minimum age was 1.00 an hour . Our country was 10 years out of the second world war .. Employment was good , spirits were high and the economy was ready to roll... Your saying, what's this got to do with anything... That's the year my mother dropped me off at a little military school in the middle of nowhere West Virginia....

When I first met my chubby little clarinet playing roomate he had already moved into the room and he advised me that he had the bottom bunk and mine was the top.. I noticed the radiator was closer to the bottom bunk . That was ok cause while he was hugging the radiator at night to keep warm I was looking out the window to see what was going on.

We were so alike , I liked country and pop music , he liked jazz... I liked a fresh airy room, he liked shades over the windows and windows closed.. I popped out of bed in the morning and he was still in the sack... he studied every night and got good grades , I played around and spent
2 extra years there... We never got too excited when it came to room inspections because that meant work... good thing he was first sergeant of our company cause our room never got inspected.

We got allowances each week .. mine was 4 dollars , I think he got the same... That 4 bucks got us lunch at Clingmans market downtown Lewisburg and the movies on Saturday, nite, sodas, candy bars, and smokes for the week. Life was simple , no TV... no car to drive , no text, internet... no nasty facebook .etc.. How did we ever survive without all of todays luxuries ? Simple, we listened to records, the local radio station, wrote letters back home, went downtown to the movies and sandwich shop or just stayed in the barracks and relaxed.

One Homecoming weekend we decided to have an early morning party before the corps of cadets got out of the sack for reville formation. Our menu was simple, sodas, candy, cookies and anything else we could find to eat. Oh and don't forget the Hormel sausages eaten straight out of the can.. We all ( 10 or so) got together quietly in the Band room and had ourselves a good time, not knowing that we were reported for the illegal gathering and all of us lost our stripes. Duane had the most stripes to loose as he was the Co. first sgt, I was a sgt first class.

Over the last 10 years we talked by phone almost every morning as I drove to work... He always answered the phone" Good Morning Roomie". Our conversations consisted of computer problems, music festivals and old times at the "Brier". One thing we both agreed upon was that if either one of us hit the Lotto, we would build a military school back in Lewisburg , W.Va . Of course that never happened but it was fun dreaming..

Many happy memories , many good times , I'm glad Duane Parsons and I crossed paths.

Happy Trails Roomie
Bink Wilson '61

Chuck Mangion's Girlfriend


This is from 1973 or 1974.
I saw Chuck's name in recent bulletin and remembered a funny story. Chuck always walked and talked with a swagger. He had a picture of a pretty blonde girl in the mirror in his room and we were all impressed when he said it was his girlfriend. However, one day I picked up some photos that I had had developed from a roll of film (remember film??) and when I opened the envelope, I nearly fell over. The first picture was the same picture of Chuck's girlfriend! I wondered for a brief second how I got her photo, but when I pulled the picture up, I could see the Kodak logo at the bottom. She was part of an advertising campaign. All Chuck had done was cut off the Kodak part of the picture. Needless to say, we had fun with this. I said "hey, Chuck, I've got your girlfriend's picture, too." The picture disappeared , but he still kept telling us stories about a girlfriend...



Homecoming 1958 ....
Colonel John made it clear that he would tolerate no after-hour parties, but the boys in the band had collected a lot of money from a "cuss box" and by the time homecoming came around so much money was collected that it was spent on a foot locker full of food.
So in our infinite wisdom, despite being warned, we decided to have a feast at 4 AM in the band room.
As I recall, it consisted mostly of potato chips, donuts, and soft cider. (What could be better at 4 AM?)
Unfortunately, Colonel Turley saw the whole thing and submitted the names to Colonel John.
And even more unfortunately, Colonel John was not in a good mood that afternoon because Staunton kicked our butts in football, something like 34-0.
After the game came an announcement that most of the cadets in the band were to report to Colonel John's office. We did so, and while we were standing at attention, the first thing he said was, "Everyone in here who isn't already a private, is now!) He then dismissed us and told us to report for walking the beat.
After the first half hour, roll was called and the first guy answered, "Here sir, how many sir?"
The answer: "Ninety-nine and a half." We had each received 200 demerits, the most you could get without being expelled from school.
We spent the rest of that autumn walking the beat, but five weeks later everyone's rank was restored.
Everyone, that is, except one cadet who shall remain nameless, but he had been my assistant squad leader and was not seen or reported during that 4 AM party, so he got promoted above me to platoon guide.
No one turned him in, but during formations when he was inspecting me and my appearance wasn't up to snuff, he would observe that my belt buckle wasn't properly shined, or I didn't have a "spiffy" in my shirt collar. To which I replied, "Uh-huh, so what are you going to do about it?" And he would get this defeated look and say, "Well, now that I think about it, you actually look okay, so I guess you're getting a merit for excellent appearance."
They say there's a silver lining behind every cloud. All I can say about that is that I had a whole bunch of merit privileges that year :)

Sounds of the Brier


Who could ever forget the voice of Hosea Smith ‘57 calling the battalion to attention? Hosea was a college cadet, Battalion Commander, a big guy, and so was his voice. He started out with a low tone and eventually raised his voice as if he were singing calling us to attention, drawing it out for (what seemed like forever) as the company commanders joined in followed by the platoon leaders and then he bellowed out the command “tenshut”!

Years later I had the opportunity to become the Battalion Adjutant at the Sunday Parades under the tutelage of James Headman. Saturday nites before the parade he would take me out on the parade field and run me through the commands……

Morning Formation Report… “Band Company absent 2 men sir” …Downs and Benjamin headed for the Fort Lauderdale Spring Break.

Back to the “Sounds” you can’t forget.
“Beat Halt” after you had just hidden in the corner of the quad or upstairs hall to skip one round of walking.

“Out of your holes!”

The sound of Captain “Deadweight” Taylor’s fraternity paddle finding its mark on my backside. (while not dropping the ashes from his cigarette).
The sound of the drumbeat to and from Sunday Night’s Church Services.
The happy sounds of promotions being read and the unhappy sound of them being taken away.

The sound of the revile band playing “jingle bells” instead of the required tunes. The sound of demerits for doing the same.
The sound of the Bugler playing “call to quarters” and all the time watching to make sure everyone was in their room by the last note.
“Sounds “If you don’t like my apples, don’t shake my tree” ---WJM
“Every year about this time” WJM
“I’ve called your mother to come get you” WJM
Sounds from Col Rawl “I’ve called your mother and you are staying”

Silver Taps played at Christmas time, myself in the quad and John Benjamin in “D” Company Hall.

Major Keene’s remarks about your speech as he tore his glasses off in disgust, (mumbled “huurrumff”) and gave his own rendition of your talk.

Sounds from the piano played by Col Richardson after the key were adjusted by a cadet the nite before. The sounds of Col. Richardson jogging down the front formation court on his way to work.

The soft well-spoken voice of col Turley speaking to us at morning chapel the issuing demerits that nite.

Sounds coming from a new cadet being introduced to the GI shower committee dressed in their back rain jacket , rain caps covers, flip lops, brushes and all-purpose cleanser.

The Battalion singing the Recessional at graduation ceremony

Waiting in JoAnn’s office and hearing her say that Col John was not in a good mood. The sound that followed was of Chevrons being torn off your shirt sleeve.

Sounds of the faculty giving me a standing applause as I walked across the stage to receive my diploma from WJM.

And finally, the last sounds at graduations.
“Company commanders take charge of your companies for the last time”
“Company attention….. Fall out!”

Hope these brought back some of your own memories…. LEST WE FORGET!


1949 Spelling Test


Remember at Sunday Formation we had to have a letter prepared to send to our parents? This was my letter just as I wrote it on Sept. 23, 1949:

Dear Mom:
I got a wack on rump from Major Keen Wed. for getting 60 on my spelling test so thur. I wrote each of my words five times and today I made 100 in spelling because that paddle didn't feel so good.
Major Keen is my spelling and reading teacher, Valmer is are history and arithmetic teacher. Major Parsons is are English teacher. Capt. Staton is are Geography teacher.
The reason I could not use my stationery is because im writing this letter in English. I will put it the pretty onvelope win I get to my room. Ha: Ha:
The other day we had to formation and my button was lose and I got reported but the next time he would stick me.
I like school here, my uniform is pretty. you couldent beleave it had been used before. my roomates name is McCormick G. he lives in Ohio and he makes a good roonate except he talks to much.

Love Don

P.S. bring my baseball.

From North to South


In September, 1948, I traveled for the first time from a small farming community in the North to a small community in the South. It was an interesting experience and one I shall not soon forget. It was also my first experience in a military environment, which served me well during the Korean War. My experience at GMS broadened my understanding of people and greatly improved skills on study skills.

William Franklin George, Musician


This story has been removed by Mike Ruth May 30, 2020

Those cold winter nights....


Do you remember those cold winter nights when it was required that we keep our window open. It was the rule that we keep a window open every night regardless of season. However, those West Virginia winter nights, and those cold concrete rooms with no heat made my business all the more in demand. I charged twenty five cents a week per room to go all over the dorm and quadrangle and shut the windows after the officer in charge (faculty and cadet) had gone to bed.

The business was most successful. In those days (probably 1946 or so) a quarter was a lot of money. That Christmas for the first time I had saved enough money to buy my mother a meaningful present, a Waring Blender. 46 was the first year the Waring Blender was on the market. Why I was not caught plying my trade in the middle of the night is a good question. Unfortunately the business was seasonal and come spring time I went back to sleeping all night.

Mr. Zicafoose was in command of the furnace which heated the entire school and there was no heat till he fired up the monster furnace in the morning. I'll never forget how cold those rooms were till the radiators started banging the welcome news that heat was on the way.