THE NAMES ON THE WALL AND THE STATISTICS BEHIND THEM
As of Oct. 27, 2017, there are 759 names of Citadel alumni who died in service to their country inscribed on The Citadel War Memorial Wall. Approximately 70 percent of those listed are South Carolinians.
The War Between the States took the highest toll of Citadel alumni with 316 names. Sadly, World War II saw 281 more qualify. In Vietnam 88 were lost, 31 were sacrificed in Korea, and the current global operation against terrorism has cost 21 to date. In World War I, 13 alumni fell. The Mexican War took four, and military incursions in the Caribbean cost four more alumni. One alumnus was killed in Lebanon in 1983 and another on 9/11.
The inscribed names represent the sacrifice of cadets and alumni from four branches of military service. Army casualties were highest at 537. Seventeen of the names on the wall were of casualties who were still enrolled as cadets at the time of death; 89 were Air Force (or Army Air Force) aircrew members; 46 were Marines; 34 sailors or Navy aviators; and five were killed while serving with Allied countries.
Interestingly, because Citadel alumni defended South Carolina from 1861 to 1865—and because five other alumni lost their lives while serving as members of foreign military organizations—a total of 321 died from injuries suffered on the battlefield under a flag other than that of the United States.
The Class of 1862 lost the most of its members, both in numbers and percentage—36 of its approximately 64 class members did not return. The Class of 1944 lost 31 in World War II, and the Class of 1868 lost eight cadets to battlefield injuries.
Other notable facts associated with the names inscribed:
- The first graduate killed in action was R.A. Palmer, Class of 1852.
- The first alumnus killed in action was Eugene Wilder, Class of 1849.
- The first veteran student to die of wounds sustained in battle was Allen Little, Class of 1852. Little suffered wounds on the Mexican battlefield, enrolled upon his return from war and graduated in 1852. He died in 1854 from complications that resulted from his injuries.
- Eight of those inscribed received the Distinguished Service Cross for Extraordinary Heroism, one received both the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross and one other received the Navy Cross:
- James Holmes, Class of 1915
- George Yarborough, Class of 1916
- Julian Mood, Class of 1916
- Marion Smoak, Class of 1938
- George Land, Class of 1939
- Francis Lael, Class of 1940
- Creswell Garlington, Class of 1944
- Ralph Hardee, Class of 1944
- William Ragin, Class of 1961
- John Fuller, Class of 1966
- There are 37 known missing in action from World War II, two more from Korea and one known missing in action/body not recovered from the War Between the States for a total of 40 still listed as missing.
- The last person killed in action east of the Mississippi River in the War Between the States is said to be Cadet W. McKenzie Parker, Class of 1868, on May 21, 1865.
- C.C. Tew, The Citadel’s first graduate (Class of 1846) and first Honor Graduate remains listed as missing in action/body not returned from the Battle of Sharpsburg, Maryland. His sword was eventually recovered and returned to the college in 2016.
- Terry Cordell, Class of 1957, was the first Citadel graduate killed in action in the Vietnam War.
- Shane Childers, Class of 2001, was the first American serviceman killed in action in Operation Iraqi freedom.
- Brigadier General Jack Girard, Class of 1938, is the highest ranking name inscribed on the wall.