12/8/19

RIP Colonel Donald K Jamison

I was blessed to have a wonderful father who shaped me and made me into a young man, but he then sent me to Virginia Military Institute to finish off the job.

I was lucky. I was studying civil engineering and my faculty advisor was Colonel Donald K Jamison.

Colonel Jamison was a civil engineering professor for 40 years, the Department Head for much of that time, the tennis coach, and a mentor (faculty advisor) to a series of very lucky cadets.

He was a friendly face, a port in a storm, but a man who treated you like a man.

We used to get our grades six times per semester during our Rat year. The first time I got a grade in calculus, I got an F.

I had to report to Colonel Jamison to review my grades. All of my grades were good, except for calculus. I just didn’t get calculus. I was trying, but it just wasn’t sinking into my head.

“You’re going home and you’ll never be a civil engineer, won’t get an Army commission if you fail Rat calculus.”

Those were the words he delivered to me. He didn’t raise his voice, didn’t scold me. He just laid out what was going to happen.

The draft was on in those days and it meant something else — being drafted when my student status was removed.

I got some help in calculus — assisted by my first class dyke (mentor) who got someone to work with me — and I figured it out in a week. I finished the semester with an A. Once I figured it out, it was easy.

I ended that year #1 in the class academically, which was one Hell of a surprise to me.

“I knew you’d figure it out,” Colonel Jamison said, when I brought him my final grades (which was at the beginning of my second year).

Colonel Jamison inspired confidence in a wiseass 18-year-old who needed that kind of inspiration. After that, I knew what I was capable of and performed at that level.

I got a job in the Fluid Mechanics Lab grading papers and assisting cadets–arranged by Colonel Jamison. That meant I could study in the quiet lab. Colonel Jamison came around at least once a week to check on me. I studied in the same place for four years. He checked up on me for four years.

About fifteen years ago, I wrote Colonel Jamison a letter thanking him for the interest he had taken in me. He remembered every element of my cadetship including an odd discussion as to whether I should jump from the fourth stoop into the laundry truck that was located in the archway four floors below.

Only VMI guys will understand this: I suggested that I would be “out of the Ratline” if I did that. He would say, “Technically, you will be out of the Ratline, but you will have to come talk to me.”

Thank you, Colonel Donald K Jamison for all you did for me. Thank you, VMI, for having attracted such rare men of talent, character, and commitment. This is the secret sauce of VMI.

There are few institutions left in America that teach, develop character. VMI continues to be one of them.

Godspeed, Colonel Jamison. Thank you.

05/15/18

The Battle of New Market

Big Red Car here on the anniversary of the Battle of New Market on 15 May 1864. It is a touchstone of the Virginia Military Institute whose cadets stormed Yankee artillery batteries with bayonets across a muddy field which came to be known as the Field of Lost Shoes.

Related image

A vignette from a painting which stands in Jackson Memorial Hall at VMI depicting the successful bayonet charge of the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets on 15 May 1864 in New Market, Virginia whereat they captured Union artillery batteries thereby driving the Union forces from the Shenandoah Valley.

The cadets lost 10 KIA and 47 WIA, but drove Yankee general Franz Siegel out of the Valley of Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley was the “breadbasket of the Confederacy” and its loss would have doomed the South.

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01/21/17

VMI — Inaugural Parade

Big Red Car here on a sunny Saturday in the ATX still enjoying the Inauguration, the Inaugural Parade, the Inaugural Balls. Talking VMI.

My favorite thing was the VMI (Virginia Military Institute) cadets, 1,500 strong, bringing up the rear of the parade. Saving the best for last in the their red caped overcoats with white crossed dykes, armed & dangerous.

This picture captures the Corps of Cadets waiting to be turned loose to march down the parade route toward the White House.

Imagine yourself amongst them. Waiting in anticipation having gotten up well before dawn and riding a bus to DC. Standing there with your M-14 and bayonet in your heavy overcoat with the blood red cape, talking to your classmates. Waiting to be a part of history you will remember for the rest of your life. Proud to be a VMI cadet and proud to be an American taking part in the peaceful transition of power which is America.

VMI cadets

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04/13/13

Explosives

Big Red Car here.  Enjoying the wonderful mild weather here in the ATX — Austin, Texas.  The ATX.

The Boss and one of his old Army friends were chewing the fat the other day and got to talking about all the interesting stuff they did all those years ago when they were young and dangerous men.  Back when the Big Red Car was just a pup himself.

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