We shall not forget

WWII

The story of ‘The Class that Never Was’ now in four languages across Europe

This article was originally published by The Citadel Newsroom on November 6, 2014.

CHARLESTON, SC – In honor of the 70th Anniversary of The Citadel’s Class of 1944, known as “The Class that Never Was”, and in memory of the members of the classmates who served in or were killed in action in World War II, the college released a special video presentation in 2014 just before D-Day.

Citadel Cadets 1942

Cadets consider enlisting with the Navy, 1942

Now, that video, which includes rare film footage from campus in the 1940s, is being shown in four languages throughout Europe, thanks to the work of Roger Long who is a member of The Citadel Class of 1989, and members of The Citadel Memorial Europe Foundation. Long is president of the BENELUX Citadel Club, and founder and chairman of The Citadel Memorial Europe Foundation. He lives in Heythuysen, in the Dutch province of Limburg. He is originally from Raleigh, N.C.

“Members of The Citadel Memorial Europe Foundation volunteer in middle schools around the continent. The video about The Class that Never Was is the perfect teaching tool we needed to help honors and memorialize the Citadel men and their allies who died while in the service of their country here in Europe and in North Africa,” Long said.

Long worked with translators to establish subtitled copies of the video in DutchFrench and Italian, to complement the original version in English, enabling Europeans speaking those languages to view the video. (more…)


Melvin Charles Helfers, ’37

By Col. Jared Kline, ’80, USA (Ret.)

It is 23 September, and I have to remember an old friend. Today would have been the 105th birthday of my old mentor, LTC Melvin Charles Helfers, Citadel Class of 1937.


Cadet Captain Melvin Charles Helfers
Infantry — English
Addison, Illinois

“Melvin came to us our Sophomore year after making an outstanding record at prep school. It did not take him long to acclimate himself and demonstrate his ability. Gold Stars came his first year and a staff captaincy followed in his last year. Always quietly efficient this Chicago lad capably handled the position of Prose Editor of The Shako and has been one of the most valuable members of the Round Table. One of the most brilliant men in the senior class. Melvin plans to teach and we predict his success with no trepidation.
1934-35 Pvt.. Co. C: Gold Stars. 1935-36 Plat. Sgt.. Supply Sgt.. Co. C; Gold Stars; The Round Table; Varsity Baseball. 1936-37 Capt.. Reg. Staff; Gold Stars: The Round Table; Prose Editor, The Shako: Yankee Club; Fourth Corps Area Rifle Team.” – Source: 1937 Sphinx


He was an Army captain stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked in 1941, and went on to become General Patton’s ULTRA intelligence officer for the war in Europe. Although he was an infantryman, he was put into signals intelligence work because he came from a German (Prussian) family in Illinois and spoke German perfectly. Here is a picture I have of him, taken on 26 August 1944, (more…)


Dutch Veterans Honor Citadel Men at Normandy

Remembering those who gave all on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Dutch veterans pay their respects. On, the 6th of June, 2014, these Dutch veterans made a special trip to the Normandy American Cemetery to place a white rose, on the behalf of The Citadel Memorial Europe, at the six graves and one name on the Wall of the Missing of the Citadel men there. The day after, one of the group stated, “We did it with great honor and respect. Yesterday, we had a great day.”


My favorite story resulting from the work of The Citadel Memorial Europe over the past five years took place back in June 2014. Probably it is my favorite because it is a tale of action, simple in execution but not without risk, and it is a perfect example of the remarkable character of the Dutch veterans I have come to know and respect.

Three years ago, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy was commemorated with great anticipation and celebration. The preparations by the French people took years. The leaders of the WWII allies were present, the news coverage was complete, and the invasion of veterans, politicians, and celebrants overwhelming.

For me, the story began a year before when chatting with a Dutch friend of mine, Job Kosterman, I learned that he and a group of his mates, all Dutch military veterans, were planning a trip to Normandy for the 70th anniversary. (more…)


Charles Alister Witsell, Jr., Class of 1946

Born on April 21, 1924, in Colleton County, South Carolina, to Pauline and Charles Alister Witsell, Charles, Jr., grew up on Hampton Street in Walterboro. He attended the public schools of Walterboro. After graduating from Walterboro High School in 1941, he attended the Porter Military Academy for one year before entering The Citadel at the beginning of the 1942-43 academic year with the Class of 1946. He was a Cadet Private Fourth Class in Company M of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets.

Charles enlisted in the service on July 30, 1943 at Fort Jackson. Originally volunteering for the Army Air Corps, he was rejected because of defective vision. In August, 1943, he volunteered for infantry service, and received his basic training at Anniston, Alabama. He was sent overseas, first to Africa, then to the Anzio beachhead. He served overseas for several months (more…)


Thomas Franklin Woodhead, Class of 1946

Thomas Franklin Woodhead was born on November 20, 1924 to Gertrude Easterly Woodhead and William Winters Woodhead of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The senior Woodhead had served in the Army during WWI, and, prior to the Great War, had been a bank clerk at the USA ROT Camp, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA.

Thomas grew up in Hamilton County, Tennessee. He graduated in 1942 from the Baylor School, a military college preparatory school for boys overlooking the Tennessee River at Chattanooga and attended summer school at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga prior to reporting to The Citadel with the Class of 1946. During his year as a member of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, he was a Private in M Company.

woodhead-1946-sphinx-1943-p162-croppedCadet Thomas Franklin Woodhead, Class of 1946
November 20, 1924 – December 10, 1944
Source: The 1943 Sphinx, p. 162.

He enlisted on June 13, 1943 and received his training at Camps Barkley and Walters in Texas. He sailed overseas on June 5, 1944 on a troopship loaded with replacement personnel. Once he reached the European Theater of Operations, he was assigned to Company “F”, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Division, First U.S. Army. (more…)


Mysterieuze verbintenis maakt een Nederlandse Citadel-Cadet trots tijdens de Amerikaanse Veteransday en ver daarna

The Citadel Newsroom, November 11, 2016. Read the English version:
Uncanny connection brings pride for cadet from Holland on Veterans Day and beyond


De Nederlandse middelbare scholier en fervent basketbalspeler Tom Koopman kreeg een telefoontje van een Amerikaanse sportscout, behorende tot de Amerikaanse militaire academie “The Citadel”, gelegen in Charleston, South Carolina. De scout bood hem een volledige studiebeurs aan in de V.S. als Tom zou besluiten daar te komen basketballen.  Koopman had nog nooit gehoord van deze school maar desondanks accepteerde hij het aanbod en startte als eerstejaars aan The Citadel in augustus 2013. Met deze start begon ook het spelen voor het basketbalteam van de school, The Bulldogs. De 203 cm lange Tom zit nu in zijn afstudeerjaar, is een succesvolle cadet en leider van het team.

At The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., on October, 2016. Zach Bland/The CitadelCadet Tom Koopman en zijn vader tijdens de ringen-ceremonie in oktober 2016

“Dit was het begin van iets unieks. Ik begreep van de aannamecommissie dat The Citadel een militaire school was, maar totdat je het hier echt zelf ervaart, is het moeilijk te begrijpen hoe speciaal deze plek eigenlijk is” aldus koopman. “Het was best zwaar aan het begin, maar wanneer je jezelf als cadet ontwikkelt, begin je het grotere plaatje te zien en begrijp je de waarde van een plekje in het South Carolina Kadettenkorps.”

Koopman ontving zijn felbegeerde Citadelring in oktober tijdens het ouderweekend. Zijn vader Patrick vloog naar Charleston vanuit zijn woonplaats Baarlo om de bijzondere prestatie van zijn zoon mee te kunnen vieren. Maar voordat vader en zoon gezamenlijk door de symbolische grote gouden ring zouden lopen, hadden ze samen al iets bijzonders in handen dat hun familie al decennia eerder aan de school verbond.

“Toen ik dit ontdekte kreeg ik er kippenvel van” aldus Roger Long, voorzitter van The Citadel Memorial Europe Foundation (more…)