It has been a long time in the planning stage, but on September 14, it all came to fruition. Over a dozen students and parents joined together under a Virginia Defense Force (VDF) tent and signed up to be the first Cadet group of the VDF in the state of Virginia. Excitement was evident from the military leaders to the prospective Cadets. Students were measured for uniforms and invited with their parents to the first full briefing of the VDF Eagle Corps.
Major Jim Stanley and Sgt. 1st Class Robert Greene spoke to the group about the history of the Virginia Defense Force and the impact of their contributions through the years. The Virginia Defense Force is an all-volunteer, formal military organization. Its mission is to assist the Virginia National Guard in performing state missions as specified by the Governor.
The students and parents received a review of what the Cadet requirements are: parental permission, be a W&L student, maintain good grades and behavior in school and the community; give your best efforts; attend drills and activities “clean and neat;” have a positive “can do” attitude; be part of the team; and ask for help if you need it.
Students “earn” the privilege to wear their uniforms. When they attend two drills and have their black boots and collared sport shirt, they are issued pants. The third and fourth drills earn you a hat and uniform shirt. By the fifth and sixth drills you earn your name tape, patches, and finally you are pinned with your rank.
All Cadets will be trained in land navigation, emergency management, color guard, teamwork, self-respect, patriotism, and service. The VDF Eagle Corps will be supporting the upcoming Fall Festival, school events, the Richmond County Fair and the Westmoreland Sheriff/Fire events.
Attending the first session for VDF were Major Jim Stanley, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Greene, Master Sgt. James Swain, and Sgt. Michael Burke. Coach Joe Taylor of W&L will be the school representative. The first VDF Eagle Corps members are James Gilhuly, Abigail Bennett, Nevach Wakefield, Ariel Smith, Ziahra Thompson, Mary Martin, Jesse Fulkerson, and Jesse Jett.
This is an exciting time to be an Eagle. Congratulations to these students and their parents for becoming part of the school history!
Jim Gilhuly and Mr. Gilhuly meet with Virginia Defence Force Master Sgt. James Swain
as he signs to become one of the first W&L VDF Cadets.