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F Troop and Other Citadel Stories

Tom Worley

Publication Year: 2014

From its founding in 1842 the Citadel has been steeped in tradition. There have been changes through the years, but the basics of the military code and the plebe system have remained constant. Citadel graduate Tom Worley has crafted this collection of short stories about life at the South Carolina military academy during the 1960s. While the stories are fictional, they are inspired in part by his days as a student on the college campus. With humor and dramatic clarity, Worley reveals the harshness of the plebe system, how success is achieved through perseverance, and the character-building benefits of a Citadel education. The seventeen stories included in the volume are told from the perspective of two main characters—cadets Pete Creger and Sammy Graham—who are members of F Company. By turns surprising and entertaining, the collected stories range from the emotional and physical trials of being a knob in the plebe system, the brutality of hazing, and the fear and fun of company pranks, to the friendship and camaraderie the system fosters and the tremendous pride shared by those who wear the coveted Citadel ring. Best known for its Corps of Cadets, the Citadel attracts students who desire a college education in a classical military system in which leadership and character training are essential parts of the overall experience. Any romanticized notion of military bravado is quickly shattered the moment students set foot on campus and their parents drive away. Many cadets are left wondering, “What have I signed up for?” Worley’s stories shed light on the pain and the pride, explaining why, he says, “most cadets at the Citadel hated the place while they were there and loved everything about it once they’d graduated. They were bonded together for life. Perhaps that’s the greatest thing the Citadel did for them.”

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v

Author’s Note

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pp. vi

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Knob Year Begins

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pp. 1-13

The Guidon is a small booklet, published annually by the Citadel, designed to provide information about the school to incoming freshmen. The goal of the fourth class system, also known as the plebe system, is to turn Citadel freshmen into Citadel men. The term plebe is from the...

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To the Showers

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pp. 14-21

The showers were the scene of many knob hazings. Knobs came to hate the showers. The hated term sweat party originated from the frequent hazings that took place there. All knobs in the company would be required to put on their Citadel sweat suits, hoods pulled over their heads. Over...

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Colonel Sydney and the Sweet Potato Sermon

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pp. 22-29

When he entered the Citadel, though he was from Charleston, Pete Creger, like most of his classmates, had not heard of Colonel Sydney. He had heard of Summerall Chapel, but until his time at the Citadel began, he paid the structure little attention, although on several occasions...

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Doughnuts and Chocolate Ice Cream

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pp. 30-37

Knob year. A little past the half way mark, first semester finished, the second just begun. Most of the knobs, at least those taken with El Cid, were well settled in, accustomed to the routine of upper class harassment, drill, PT (physical training), sweat parties, classes, studying...

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Company Barber

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pp. 38-47

Sammy Graham’s dad was a barber. Owned his own shop. At age thirteen Sammy was taken into the shop to learn the trade, first under a learner’s permit, then as an apprentice, and finally as a licensed registered barber, or as his dad referred to it, a master barber. By the time Sammy entered the Citadel he was an excellent barber...

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Knob Rebellion

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pp. 48-55

T.S. Eliot wrote, “April is the cruelest month.” F Company knobs at the Citadel, Class of 1968, in the spring of 1965 knew he was wrong. March is the cruelest month. As hard as the knob year was, March was the month that was the hardest, cruelest month of all. As the month of February of that year neared its close, rumor spread...

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The Long Gray Line

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pp. 56-71

The United States Military Academy at West Point is the school most closely associated with the phrase “long gray line.” In the 1950s there was a book and a movie, set at West Point, with that title. The term connotes the continuum between cadets and the graduates of a military institution...

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Echo Taps

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pp. 72-79

The plebe system administered to freshmen at the Citadel in the 1960s was hard, tough physically and mentally. War was raging in Vietnam. At other college campuses across the country students were protesting with antiwar rallies, which sometimes turned violent and ugly and made...

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F Troop

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pp. 80-92

From its founding in 1842 the Citadel has been steeped in tradition. There have been changes through the years, some major, others minor, but the basics of the military and the plebe system have remained the same. When Pete Creger and the other members of the Class of 1968...

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The Hand of God

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pp. 93-102

Pete Creger’s friend Joe Nolan, when the two of them were still knobs at the Citadel, once remarked to Pete, “this place doesn’t make a man out of you, it just proves you already are one.” Most cadets at the Citadel hated the place while they were there and loved everything about it once they’d...

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Command Decision

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pp. 103-108

Guard duty at the Citadel was a pain. For most of his cadet career Sammy Graham was a private, but for reasons inexplicable to him about midway through his senior year he was elevated to the lofty position of second lieutenant, becoming Cadet Second Lieutenant Sammy...

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I Wear the Ring

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pp. 109-115

“I wear the ring.” Poignant words. The opening line of Pat Conroy’s classic novel about the Citadel, The Lords of Discipline. Read and loved by all Citadel graduates. Conroy, Citadel class of 1967. Conroy and his novel. Both once banned from campus, now embraced. That great line...

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Captain Schierick

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pp. 116-123

Tac officers. Short for tactical officers. Regular U.S. Army or Air Force officers stationed at the Citadel and assigned to the companies by the commandant’s department to oversee the companies’ military training. One tac officer to each company. Their primary duty was to teach military...

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Encounters with the Boo

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pp. 124-135

Of the many good and great men who served the Citadel in the twentieth century none held the hearts of the corps of cadets as did Lt. Colonel Thomas Nugent Courvoisie. Affectionately known to the cadets of the 1960s as the Boo, he roamed the campus in his green Comet or...

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A Mutual Friend

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pp. 136-161

Patti Lazicki was a heartbreaker. A real heartbreaker. Even as a child. As she grew up, she became a Greek goddess. She and Sammy Graham knew each other as children. They were playmates and classmates in school. Patti’s family lived on Sumter Street on the Charleston peninsula in...

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pp. 162-175

Most teachers generally are thought of as occasionally being a bit ditzy, arguably an undeserved reputation. College professors in particular are often thought of as absent-minded professor types. There’s the Disney movie The Nutty Professor. Overall, the Citadel faculty of the...

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pp. 176-190

The French word mes is roughly translated food, or a portion of food. That word, in turn, comes from the Latin word mittere, which means, among other things, to send for. The word “mess” means to send for food. Sometime around the fifteenth century the English military began using...

About the Author

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pp. 191

E-ISBN-13: 9781611173352
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611173345

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2014