Culver Academies will be conducting a special weekend full of events to commemorate the centennial of the Armistice, the official end of World War I. Most of the events are open to the public.
Along with the time-honored Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 11, the Memorial Chapel bells will toll 21 times in five-second intervals as part of the national Bells of Peace program at 11 a.m. Special guests at this year’s ceremony will include dignitaries from the six Allied nations that attended the original dedication of the Culver Memorial Legion Building in 1924: Great Britain, France, Serbia, Belgium, Romania, and Italy. The Corps of Cadets will be stepping off at 10:40 a.m. so they are in position for the ringing of the bells.
The Veterans Day ceremony recognizes the sacrifices made by Culver alumni during times of war. Since 1924, Culver has recognized the sacrifices of American and Allied soldiers during World War I at 11 a.m. The ceremony has changed very little since that original Legion Memorial Building dedication ceremony was conducted 94 years ago.
This year’s speaker is former Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Army Col. Al Shine (retired). Shine served as commandant and as a history instructor from 1990 through 2000. His military service included tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, infantry command at the company and battalion level, and teaching assignments at West Point, Wheaton College (Ill.) and the U.S. Army War College.
Col. Shine has been an editor for the Strategic Studies Institute and teaches about World War II and the Civil War for a travel agency. His articles have appeared in Command, Infantry, Air Power Journal, Parameters, and Armed Forces Journal. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy and an M.A. in history from Harvard University. His awards and decorations include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Purple Heart.
At 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, the Corps of Cadets will conduct a special military retreat at the Henderson Parade Field in front of the Vaughn Equestrian Center. The reviewing line will include the six foreign dignitaries and the reviewing officer will be Lt. Gen. John (Jack) Woodmansee, a 1952 graduate. Woodmansee will also be the keynote speaker at special alumni dinner Saturday evening.
Woodmansee is a 1956 United States Military Academy graduate and entered flight school in 1957. He served in Vietnam flying Huey gunships, where he was recommended by the Marine Corps for the Navy Cross. During his second tour, he commanded the 7th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, the largest air cavalry squadron in Vietnam. He logged more than 1,500 hours of combat flying over two years and was awarded the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross five times, and the Air Medal with valor device.
Woodmansee has also received the Army Distinguished Service Medal and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, and Legion of Merit and a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster.
During World War I, 116,516 Americans died and more than 200,000 were wounded. Culver Military Academy contributed nearly 3,500 alumni to the cause, and many served with distinction, including 85 who died in the war. The school’s leadership during the period just prior to the war was instrumental in helping generate such programs as the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and Culver gained an international name as a result of its contributions.
Following the war, dignitaries like General of the Armies John Pershing, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, and Gen. John A. Lejeune, among many others, visited the campus. The war also helped shape the physical campus even through today, by way of landmark structures and locations like Pershing Walk, the Legion Memorial Building, and Argonne and Chateau-Thierry barracks (which house Atrium, Ciel, Court, Harbor, and Tower dorms today).
The public is also welcome to attend the following events:
- 12:30 p.m., Saturday, on campus: Flyover by the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard.
- 3 p.m., Saturday: Crisp Visual Arts Center: Opening of the exhibition “Hear Now the Roll Call, Gold Star Men of Culver – World War I” (publicly presenting for the first time since 1954, more than 60 recently-restored portraits of Culver alumni killed in the war, commissioned following the end of the war).
- 1-5 p.m., Sunday, Crisp Visual Arts Center: “Hear Now the Roll Call, Gold Star Men of Culver – World War I.”
- 8 p.m., Tuesday, Eppley Auditorium: Beyond Glory – True Stories of Medal of Honor Recipients starring Avatar actor Stephen Lang (part of the Huffington Concert Series; there is an admission charge for this event). Tickets will be available at Eppley Auditorium box office.