I have been fortunate in life. I have enjoyed the tutelage of extraordinary teachers and had the example of great men starting with my father.
One of those men was the boxing coach at my alma mater, Virginia Military Institute. Every cadet took Rat (freshman) boxing. I hate to admit I enjoyed it, though I did bleed more than a little. You will note that the boxers are not wearing headgear. Coach King did not fool around.
The man on the right is Coach Clark King. This picture was taken a few years before I matriculated at VMI, but it could have been my class. That’s exactly the way we looked.
Coach King taught you technique, how to land a punch, how to take a punch, but he taught us all something more — he taught us how to be men, to defend ourselves in a hard world. The Vietnam War was going on at the time.
What I did not know was that Colonel King was a World War II Marine and had been awarded the Silver Star for heroism at Iwo Jima as a Second Lieutenant, platoon commander. The attached citation tells the story.
These are the kind of men who taught us back in the 1960s. The kind of men who formed us and fired us in a hot furnace called The Virginia Military Institute. I am happy to report that the same transformation is underway as we speak. One of my Brother Rats is the President of the Board of Visitors. The school is run by an incredibly competent leader, General Peay. It is an infinitely better school than when I matriculated.
I am eternally grateful to these men and to my father who nudged me in that direction. [Thanks to fellow alumnus Dee Shannon, for the Citation for Clark King’s Silver Star.]
Real men. I am proud to have been in their company.