Born on April 9, 1923, in Sulphur Springs township, Rutherford County, N.C., to Nevada “Vada” Jane McMahan and Lee Roy Robbins, Bruce Robbins grew up on a farm near the small town of Bostic just outside of Rutherfordton.
Cadet Robbins entered The Citadel at Charleston, South Carolina, with the Class of 1943 at the start of the 1939-40 academic year. He was a member of Band Company all four years. Throughout his four years at The Citadel, he was involved with The Shako, the cadet magazine, and was its Associate Editor his senior year. He also played in the Symphony Orchestra. He received Gold Stars for academic achievement his junior year and was President of the Beta Chapter of Gamma Alpha Mu his senior year.
Cadet Private Bruce Curtis Robbins, Class of 1943
Source: 1943 Sphinx
The Citadel chapter of Gamma Alpha Mu was formed in 1941. The organization was founded in 1928 at Clemson College for the purpose of recognizing literary ability and achievements. Gamma Alpha Mu was the highest honor a cadet could achieve in appreciation of his work in the literary field. Fellow classmate and English major, William C. Whitley, Jr., was also a member.
After graduating with a Bachelors degree in English on Saturday May 29, 1943, Bruce attended the infantry school at Fort (more…)
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.
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 Dutch, French and Italian, to complement the original version in English, enabling Europeans speaking those languages to view the video. (more…)
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
“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…)
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…)
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…)
Born in 1923 to Maria and Pasquala Altomari, Joseph grew up at 60-12 68th Avenue in Ridgewood, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. He attended The Citadel for two years before entering service in the U.S. Army. During his freshman year, he was a member of Cadet Company “H”. The following academic year, he was a member of Cadet Company “K” and joined the English Club. On December 6, 1942 in Charleston, he enlisted in the army and was placed in the Enlisted Reserve Corps which allowed him to continue his study at The Citadel until the time he was called up for basic training.
Cadet Private Joseph Altomari, Class of 1945
1943 Sphinx, Annual of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets
In Europe, he served in Company “C”, 50th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division. Sgt. Altomari died, (more…)
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday, May 31, 1942, p.43
This is another in a series of articles on Life on the Campus at our leading schools and colleges. By ELEANOR NANGLE
FOR THE last week more than 200 first classmen at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina at Charleston, have been approaching, with a reluctance they wouldn’t have believed possible four years ago, the most eagerly anticipated event of their lives. As seniors they have led the corps for the last time. They have formed in the reviewing stand to receive the last parade. Yesterday they were graduated.
Today they are scattering to their homes in all parts of the country, most of them pausing only briefly before they enter the armed services. But something of them remains at the Citadel, adding in large or small measure to the vast stores of cadet tales and traditions there. And the spirit of the Citadel goes with them. In the life of all Citadel men the thread of Citadel memories is one of the most colorful, durable, and treasured in its whole tapestry.
Full-dress parade in the Spring of 1943 (Courtesy of The Citadel Archives)
The Citadel man has absorbed more than rigorous training of mind, body, and spirit, and when he reviews them, as all graduating cadets do on commencement day, he places new value on other gifts of the school to the student – the Spartan discipline, the good counsel, the friendships, the democracy, the pageantry of patriotism and the essence of it. (more…)