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Citadel News Service


The Post and Courier
Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Story reprinted with permission.

The Citadel applauds cadets called up for duty

by Catherine Lawrence
The Post and Courier

     When Citadel President Maj. Gen. John Grinalds recognized 39 cadets called up to serve in the nation's military Tuesday, the college mess hall exploded in rowdy applause, whoops, yelps and banging silverware.

     More than a dozen cadets came forward to be honored by fellow students, faculty and cafeteria workers.

     "These young men standing before you know not what comes," Grinalds said. "They have been called to duty and, God willing, we will welcome them home when they are done."

     Of the 1,900 cadets in the corps, more than 120 are affiliated with a reserve or National Guard. Two cadets have been deployed. Another group, most national guardsmen, got their orders this week.

     The college has little information about where the cadets will go or when they will return. Some guardsmen will work locally, filling in spots left by active military sent overseas. Others may be activated and shipped closer to the fighting.

     Clad in battle dress fatigues, Christian McElroy, 24, said goodbye to his comrades in Kilo Company Tuesday. His bags were already packed. His next stop was the armory in Mount Pleasant to await orders.

     "I got into the National Guard for a reason. I had a calling to serve my country ... and I've got God behind me," said the Chesapeake, Va., senior.

     McElroy said he was nervous, anxious and excited. Their only regret: "We are supposed to get our rings Friday."

     McElroy and his fellow seniors have worked for four years to wear the Citadel ring - an honor second only to graduation, Regimental Commander Bobby Cox said.

     "It is a symbol of the hardships you go through at school and the bond that is formed here," Cox, 21, said of the ring. "It is a symbol of The Citadel family."

     The Class of 1944 was the only one in the school's history to received their rings as juniors. School leaders knew the students would be fighting World War II by the following October. The attacks on America have meant increased interest in the armed forces among cadets, Cox said. "It makes the events of the world that much more real. We see our friends leaving, and we all want to go together."

     Grinalds, a retired Marine, remembers the call to war. He served in the Mediterranean, the Panama Canal Zone, Japan and Belgium, and he did two tours of duty in Vietnam.

     "I know exactly what these young men feel," he said. "It is exciting. There is some trepidation. There is always the element of danger. It is a mixture of emotions."

     Grinalds also knows how a father feels when his children enter a war - two of Grinalds' sons served in combat. "I'm as concerned about (the cadets) as I am my own children. It is an uncomfortable feeling to send your children to war," he said.

     College Chaplain Col. David Golden said many students have little time to think about their fears. That will come later as they face the unknown. "You have to learn to listen and pray with them as they prepare to leave," he said.

     Cox also is working inside the corps to keep student morale high. That includes looking after a small group of Muslim students on campus. "We march with them. We go to class with them. Now we understand them more," Cox said. "It has brought us all together."

     Leaders promised to make the departure and return easy for students. School policy allows cadets who report for active duty to withdraw from class and receive a full tuition refund and a pro-rated fee refund.

     Cadets can also take an incomplete in their courses and resume studies when they return.




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