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Virginia Tech Historical Data Book, Section 2.11:
Alumni

Any former student of the university's regular academic program for credit is considered an alumnus.

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION - The 12 members of the first graduating class of Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College organized an Alumni Association on Aug. 11, 1875, and elected officers. William A. Caldwell, the first student to enroll at the college in 1872, was elected secretary in 1876. He later became a teacher, an employee of Norfolk and Western, and then a traveling salesman for a molasses company in North Carolina. He died in Wilmington, N.C., in 1910.

The first Alumni Association was never very strong and, in 1891, the members decided to reorganize. They drew up a constitution, decided to publish an Alumni Register, and declared that they would participate more actively in the affairs of the college. The association was incorporated on June 23, 1924.

Development of early alumni records required a great deal of voluntary work on the part of Col. J.S.A. Johnson '98 and H.H. (Bunker) Hill '04, both of whom served without pay. The basic alumni records system was established by Hill. The first paid executive secretary was Henry B. Redd '19, who was hired in 1926 and served until his death in 1960. New by-laws were adopted by the association in 1964, making the association an operating unit of the university, and thus relinquishing an "independent" status of 89 years. At the same time, the alumni director-secretary became director of alumni affairs. Alumni directors (director of alumni affairs) have been: H.B. Redd, 1926-60; M.L. Oliver, 1960-65; Philip Oliver (acting), 1965-66; C.B. Ross, 1966-67; H.L. Pritchard (acting), 1967-68; G.B. Russell, 1968- ).

Membership in the Alumni Association was originally achieved by paying annual dues of $1 a year (later raised to $3). An Alumni Loyalty Fund (later Alumni Fund) was established in 1937 (effective 1938), replacing dues with annual contributions. An Alumni Fund Council was established in June 1938. A University Development Council was established in 1964 to direct all university fund raising activities, including those of the Alumni Association.

Tech's women alumnae organized a VPI Alumnae Society in 1933 to serve their special interests. The society was succeeded by the Women's Chapter of the VPI Alumni Association, organized in April 1955 and dissolved in May 1971. An "Old Guard" association, restricted to those who have been graduated at least 50 years, was formed in June 1967.

Class reunions were held at commencement until 1941, when they were cancelled because of the war; they were made part of Homecoming football weekend when resumed in 1952. An official Homecoming Day for alumni was designated by the Alumni Association in September 1928.

ALUMNI WAR SERVICE - In the Spanish-American War the members of Band Company tried to enlist as a unit, but the offer was turned down. Most of the members enlisted individually as bandsmen with the Second Virginia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry and were in training in Florida when the war ended. In World War I, Tech had 2,297 men under arms. In World War II, about 7,500 were in the services. More than 1,800 Techmen served during the Korean conflict, and many more still serve at numerous bases around the world. Many Techmen have preformed heroically in the wars of the nation, but eight deserve special mention (seven of whom were Congressional Medal of Honor recipients):

Col. Julien E. Gaujot and Capt. Antoine A.M. Gaujot

Julien E. Gaujot and Antoine A.M. Gaujot, both Tech alumni, are the only blood brothers ever to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Antoine received the medal for bravery shown at San Mateo, Philippines, in 1899. His older brother, Julien, was honored for action under fire in Mexico in 1911. The brothers, natives of Michigan, enrolled at Tech in the 1890s but did not graduate. Julien attended 1889-90, matriculating from Lynchburg; Antoine attended 1896-97, enrolled from Williamson, W.Va.

Antoine was in three engagements: Spanish-American, Philippine insurrection, and World War I. He participated in three World War I battles, receiving three bronze leaves. He was only a corporal when his Philippine action merited the Medal of Honor. His citation read, in part: "Attempted under heavy fire ... to swim a river and return to his own forces with a boat - the only means of passage for his forces to pursue further insurrectionists."

After Antoine received his medal, Julien became obsessed with achieving one for himself. Referring to his younger brother's citation, Julien said: "He wears it for a watch fob, the damned civilian. I got to get me one of them things for my own self if I bust." Julien was stationed at Douglas, Ariz., in 1911 when some stray gunfire from across the Mexican border accidentally killed some people in Douglas during the Madero revolution. Julien was infuriated, mounted his beloved horse, "Old Dick," and rode across the border into the teeth of the revolutionaries' fire. Spouting Spanish profanity, at which he was an acknowledged master, he succeeded in saving Douglas from further bloodshed and led five Americans to safety. He was also successful in making the Mexican government furious. Gen. Leonard Wood later said, in referring to the incident, that Julien's action warranted "either a court martial or a Medal of Honor. The medal was never better deserved, and no American court martial will convict." Julien served in the Army from 1897-1934 and participated in five major engagements: Spanish-American, Philippine insurrection, Cuban pacification, Mexican border, and World War I. He received two bronze leaves on his service ribbon for action in two major World War I offensives.

Both Gaujot brothers died in Williamson, W.Va. Antoine died April 14, 1936; Julien died April 7, 1938.

Sgt. Earle D. Gregory

Gregory was the first native Virginian ever to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. A native of Chase City, he attended Tech after receiving the medal for gallantry at Bois de Consenvoye, north of Verdu, France, on Oct. 8, 1918. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre, Medal of the Legion of Honor, Medaille Militaire, and Montenegrin Order of Merit. He was president of the corps of cadets while at Tech and graduated in 1923. The cadet drill team at Tech, the Gregory Guard, was named in his honor in May 1963. Gregory bequeathed his medals and war memorabilia to Tech before his death on Jan. 6, 1972.

2nd Lt. Robert F. Femoyer

Femoyer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism in World War Il. A native of Huntington, W.Va., and a member of the Class of 1944, he saw action over Germany in a "Flying Fortress" and piloted his anti-aircraft riddled plane back to safety in England. Although mortally wounded, his action saved the lives of his crew. He died an hour after landing his plane on Nov. 2, 1944. Femoyer Dormitory is named in his memory.

1st Lt. James W. Monteith Jr.

Monteith was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for courage and gallantry while leading his men in destroying an enemy emplacement on the Normandy beachhead. He was killed in this action on June 6, 1944 (D-Day). A native of Richmond, he was a member of the Class of 1941. Monteith Dormitory is named in his memory.

Sgt. Herbert J. Thomas

Thomas was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism on Bougainville, during the Pacific Campaign, on Nov. 7, 1943. He was killed when he threw himself on a live grenade to save the men of his squad. A native of Charleston, W.Va., and a member of the Class of 1941, he played varsity football while a student at Tech. Thomas Dormitory is named in his memory.

Maj. Lloyd W. Williams

Williams, a native of Berryville and 1907 alumnus, was killed on June 12, 1918, after being gassed and wounded by enemy shrapnel in a battle near Chateau-Thierry, France. Williams has been attributed with one of the more famous quotes of World War I: "Retreat? Hell, No!" The story, as officially reported, was that a French major moving with his battalion along a dark road after a general withdrawal had been ordered, told Williams, then a captain and commanding officer of the 51st Company, Fifth Marines, to follow. Williams reported the incident to his battalion commander with the following message: "French drawing back through us. French major ordered me to withdraw with him. Told him to 'go to hell'." A Distinguished Service Cross was later sent to his parents. Williams was the first Virginian known to have died in World War 1. Major Williams Hall is named in his memory.

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Last Modified on: Tuesday, 25-Sep-2001 08:16:07 EDT