A magazine for alumni, family & friends            Fall, 2021

The Forge

Valley Forge Military Academy and College
Valley Forge Military Academy
Academy Cadets Off to a Strong Start

Academy Cadets Off to a Strong Start

Back to school is always filled with excitement and anticipation and so it has been with the 94th corps of cadets returning to VFMA for the 2021-2022 academic year. Classes began August 30th.


An Academy priority is the health and well-being of cadets and faculty while providing in-person learning. (Show More) Cadets were tested on arrival for covid, and vaccination is encouraged but not required. In the classroom, covid protocols remain in place with clear shields separating faculty and students, along with aggressive and regular classroom cleaning. An indoor mask mandate by the governor of Pennsylvania means everyone is to mask up for the foreseeable future.

"Masks or not, having cadets present in the classroom makes a big difference in how and what they learn," said Paul M. Lea IV, M.S., Ph.D., '87 & ‘89C, dean of the academy.

Campus Improvements

Students are finding some changes around the campus and in Shannon Hall, the main education building for the academy. Shannon Hall's air-conditioned classrooms make learning a lot more comfortable for both cadets and faculty during the August/September months. A new outdoor learning space has been built adjacent to Shannon Hall. The 55'x35' space is a floating deck surrounded by vegetation. The furniture was made by cadet Stahl, '21 to earn his Eagle Scout designation. "The space offers a different learning environment for the cadets," said Dr. Lea. "A change of environment can enhance learning and we are grateful to offer this opportunity to students and faculty."


A new STEM/Maker Space classroom is now part of the curriculum. Made possible by a $50K grant from the Hearst Foundation, the classroom includes pods of desks which serve as white boards so teams of students can collaborate on ideas. The classroom also houses a weather station, high end computers with 3D and other advanced software programs, microscopes, a 3D printer, complex cameras linked to microscopes and other devices, and a green screen to place students in far locations. As part of his project to earn his Eagle Scout designation, Cadet Alexander Sible ‘22 cleared the room of materials from its former use, painted the lab, received, and assembled all the furniture, and set up the room to enable efficient use of all it offers.

Kim McCann, instructor and chair of the VFMA science department, has rewritten the entire science curriculum to incorporate the maker space of the STEM/Maker Space classroom. "Many of our cadets have an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics so this new classroom and STEM lab will enable us to bring out their best thinking," said McCann.


With Middle States' approval of the grade-appropriate curriculum, cadets will learn academically what students in the same grades elsewhere will be learning – only the cadet education will go beyond the books. "We teach the whole person," said Dr. Lea. "Our cadets are educated physically, mentally, morally within a military style framework. Our Five Cornerstones are the basis of everything we do here, so our students graduate prepared to make a difference in society."

The comprehensive education benefits from the intimate learning conditions. "With smaller class sizes as compared to those in public schools, we are able to individualize the education to assure each student gets what he needs to succeed academically and in all aspects of cadet life," said Dr. Lea.

VFMA's High Standards

VFMA is not for everybody. Acceptance into VFMA requires a rigorous review of a student's files to assure the student is a good fit to the military model of education.

Military Model

The military environment is singularly significant to our philosophy since the military structure with its concurrent emphasis upon discipline, duty, and responsibility develops leadership ability, fosters respect for authority, and provides the orderly setting and wholesome atmosphere necessary for young men to obtain a quality education. The military approach is a fundamental cornerstone of our philosophy and serves as a technique of education. It provides the framework for learning and is used as the means to an end, not as an end in itself, for the purpose of developing, forming, and shaping the educated, responsible citizen.

Each student and his family must be willing to live into the Five Cornerstones and to be molded to think about fellow cadets before themselves. The transition away from a civilian life is hard and takes some time, but with the high standards set, it assures a cadet population with a drive and ambition to be the very best.

This corps of cadets has adjusted well, is off to a solid start, and cadets are embracing and exhibiting the Five Cornerstones in all they are do.

STEM Lab Opens in Shannon Hall for All Academy Cadets

STEM Lab Opens in Shannon Hall for All Academy Cadets

Since April, work has been underway to fit out the new STEM classroom. Made possible by a generous grant from the Hearst Foundation, the new classroom enables cadets to further their education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


The concept behind the STEM lab is that cadets will be immersed in collaborative learning to make concepts into reality – from an individual thought to engineering to manufacturing of end use product.

Kim McCann, instructor and chair of the VFMA science department, along with Dr. Paul Lea, IV, MS, Ph.D., Class of '85 and ‘89C, dean of the Academy were instrumental in developing the grant and liaising with the Hearst Foundation. Ms. McCann will teach and manage the STEM lab.

"We are thrilled to bring this STEM lab to life for our cadets," said Ms. McCann. "The depth of our cadets' STEM capabilities makes a lab like this essential to expand their education."


The lab includes pods of desks which serve as white boards so teams of students can collaborate on ideas. A weather station, high end computers with 3D and other advanced software programs, microscopes, a 3D printer, complex cameras linked to microscopes and other devices, and a green screen to place students in far locations are all part of the lab's offerings.

Student Leadership

The lab will be student lead to consider complex problems and then engineer solutions. The lab was fitted out by Cadet Alexander Sible '22 of Collegeville, Pa. As part of his project to earn his Eagle Scout designation, Cadet Sible cleared the room of materials from its former use, painted the lab, received and assembled all the furniture, and set up the room to enable efficient use of all it offers.

For All Subjects

The lab is being used by all subjects and all VFMA cadets. "While we all think of STEM as being pure science and math related, there are STEM applications for all categories of education," said Ms. McCann.

An example is with English classes currently reading Bridge to Terabithia: students will use the STEM lab to build a bridge and determine whose design is strongest. Science classes teaching about cells will use the STEM lab's microscopes and cameras, and the lab's CAD, build the cell with the 3-D printer, create posters, and present details from the smart screen.

"Some of the most reputable schools in the nation don't have access to a STEM such as this one," said Dr. Lea. "This is one more example of why VFMA can offer an outstanding education with military discipline to mold the whole person to make them a strong contributing member of future society."

VFMA Class of '99 Is Represented At the White House

VFMA Class of '99 Is Represented At the White House

Chris Daleske's work address at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., is a well-known one. As the DC National Guard Liaison Officer to the White House Operations Center inside the Executive Office of the President (EOP), Mr. Daleske is helping to strengthen the relationship between the DCNG and the EOP.

The road to DC started at VFMAC. Having first attended two summer camps at The Forge, Mr. Daleske enrolled at the Academy in 1996, graduating in 1999. Being a Cadet made an impact, recalling and reciting his Academy ID number with great pride. "967018!," he said. "I loved The Forge, the uniform and what it represents, and knew service was going to be a big part of my life and career."

Continuing on at VFMC, Mr. Daleske took part in the Early Commissioning Program (ECP). Graduating from VFMC in 2001, he completed a B.A. in Political Science and History at Clemson University and later obtained his MBA at American Military University.

On active duty at Fort Bragg, N.C., Mr. Daleske was an artillery officer, part of the 18th Airborne Corps. After being deployed for 14 months in 2008-2009 to Iraq, Mr. Daleske exited active duty and joined the Multi-Agency Augmentation Command of the D.C. Army National Guard.

"This unit is not a traditional National Guard unit," Mr. Daleske said. "The missions are not what one would consider standard by any measure." In this role, Mr. Daleske has been involved in a broad scope of mission sets. While assigned to the Pentagon he supported traditional domestic operations during hurricanes, wildfires, and border control while also supporting international missions such as the Fukishma Nuclear Power Plant disaster, rescue and recovery efforts after the Haitian Earthquake, and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a more traditional National Guard role, Mr. Daleske has supported eight State of the Union Addresses, three Presidential Inaugurations, humanitarian support to the Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria, and served as a military advisor in Burkino Faso, Africa, and Jamaica.

Apart from his National Guard duties in his civilian occupation, Mr. Daleske worked with the Department of Defense focusing on returning wounded soldiers back into the civilian workforce.

In reviewing the influence The Forge has had on him, Mr. Daleske says what he learned here fundamentally changed the course of his future, greatly influenced who he is today and served as the foundation for what he has been able to do in his career. "From a very early age, VFMAC instilled in me decorum, the importance of hard work and determination, how to interact with others in a subordinate, peer, or leadership role, and how to value, treat, and respect all persons," he said.

Mr. Daleske is not sure what will come next for him in his career but he is confident his experiences to date, including those at VFMAC, have equipped him well for whatever it may be.

Valley Forge Military College
HR McMaster Center for Security Studies Names New Director

HR McMaster Center for Security Studies Names New Director

Valley Forge Military College's HR McMaster Center for Security Studies has named Jonathan Duecker as its new director.

Mr. Duecker has been a member of the VFMC faculty since 2017 beginning as an adjunct and serving in that capacity before engaging full time in 2018. (Show more) Since then, he has been an assistant professor of security studies.  In 2020, he was appointed Coordinator of the Security Studies Program, creating and maintaining the program's curriculum and advising students in that major.

"This is a logical addition to Mr. Duecker's responsibilities," said Robert F. Smith, Ph.D, Med, provost, and chief academic officer. "The HR McMaster Center for Security Studies is renowned for its prestigious speaker series and debate and discourse on matters of domestic and global security. He is well-equipped to lead the Center in an ever-changing environment for our military and nation."

HR McMaster Center for Security Studies

The HR McMaster Center for Security Studies provides academic support for currently enrolled cadets and training opportunities for alumni and community members.  Mr. Duecker's role entails developing programming for the annual Speaker's Series and educational seminars on current security studies issues.

The fall 2021 Series includes:

General Gustave Perna, '81C.  Recently retired as a four-star general, his last command was Operation Warp Speed, guiding the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.  His forty-year career included numerous staff and command roles.  He will address his VFMC experience and share how current cadets can leverage their own experiences to be successful in the army. General Perna will be speaking to cadets and alumni via Zoom on November 18.

Brigadier General George Schwartz, director of the emergency planning and management program at Immaculata University, and assistant adjutant general of the Pennsylvania National Guard.  He will speak on various aspects of his leadership experience both in and out of the military. Brigadier General Schwartz will be speaking to cadets in person on October 14.

Mr. Sam Chen, assistant professor of political science Northampton Community College and private political consultant is an expert in state election campaigns. He addressed cadets about the election and political process in the United States in person on September 16.

"I am very excited to add this new challenge," said Jonathan Duecker. "History defines the future, and we bear a great responsibility to educate our cadets in all aspects of military history because they will help shape our future. Being part of an institution which can incorporate esteemed leaders as part of its routine education sets VFMC apart in a very positive way."

In addition to the Speaker's Series, Mr. Duecker will collaborate with the college administration to schedule, plan, and execute a variety of engaging activities for cadets such as the Semester Staff Rides – much anticipated events in which cadets visit battlefields and examine, on site, the details of tactics and military action relevant to the battle. Cadet instructors research and present vital battle information, which is then tied together by leading experts on the battles who are invited to participate.

In the past, the Staff Ride included Valley Forge National Park, Fort Mifflin, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. For fall 2021, the Staff Ride will be to Washington's Crossing, Trenton and Princeton, NJ, examining the 10 crucial days that transformed the American Revolution from a lost cause to a viable war for independence. The day will be guided by Dr. Smith, an expert in the American Revolution and author of Manufacturing Independence: Industrial Innovation in the American Revolution.

Mr. Duecker graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1986, commissioning as ensign in the US Navy. After attending the US Navy's flight school at Pensacola, FL, he was assigned to the EA-6B "Prowler" tactical electronic warfare community and flew electronic countermeasures missions from several fleet aircraft carriers. After seven years of active duty, he joined the Naval Reserve as an Intelligence Officer performing counterdrug, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism intelligence analysis and production, retiring in 2010 with a rank of commander.

After leaving active duty, Mr. Duecker attended and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School and was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar and the two Federal Districts in Wisconsin. After graduating from the US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Basic Agent Training at Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned as a Special Agent to the DEA's Philadelphia Field Division.

Immediately after the events of September 11, 2001, Mr. Duecker was assigned by the DEA to the Philadelphia FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and mobilized to active duty to the Joint Intelligence Task Force – Combating Terrorism at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency providing counterterrorism intelligence analysis and production in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and the Global War on Terrorism.

While at DIA, Mr. Duecker was responsible for creating the Homeland Defense Division, monitoring transnational terrorist threats to the continental US. He created the "Joint Regional Information Exchange System" (JRIES), an information sharing system between the federal, state, and local intelligence and law enforcement agencies that was eventually adopted by the US Department of Homeland Security and renamed the "Homeland Security Information Network" (HSIN).

Demobilized at the end of 2002, in 2003, Mr. Duecker was appointed Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security by then-Governor Edward Rendell, and in 2004 was elevated to Director. He served in that position until the end 2005. He was then appointed Assistant Commissioner (Counterterrorism) of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) by then-Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and served in that capacity until the end of 2008.

From 2009 - 2011, Mr. Duecker was the General Manager and Director of Operations for the Middle East and Arabian Gulf providing counterterrorism, intelligence, security, and critical infrastructure protection counsel and training to the Critical National Infrastructure Authority, the principal UAE government agency responsible for protecting the nation's critical infrastructure (oil, gas, water, nuclear, airport, and seaport).

Mr. Duecker returned from Abu Dhabi, UAE to serve as the Senior Counterterrorism Advisor on the Committee on Homeland Security in the US House of Representatives for the 112th Congress. In 2013, Mr. Duecker became the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Narcotics Investigations and Drug Control (BNIDC) at the Office of the Attorney General, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He subsequently took on the additional role as Chief of Staff for the Office.

Mr. Duecker currently teaches courses in Leadership, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Incident Command, Constitutional Law, Global Conflict, International Relations, Introduction to National Security, and Intelligence Studies.

VFMC's Early Commissioning Program Draws Future Military Leaders

VFMC's Early Commissioning Program Draws Future Military Leaders

The Valley Forge Military College and Military College of Pennsylvania's Army ROTC Early Commissioning Program Class of 2023 finished basic training and classes are underway. The program continues to draw men and women seeking leadership opportunities in the US military.


Comprising the Class of 2023 are 35 men and women from across the US, and two from Italy and Belgium. A rigorous basic training camp in August honed physical and mental skills, instructed on field operations, and basic weaponry, and prepared the Class for ongoing military instruction which continues during the academic year.

"There are some notable and remarkable differences to this class," said Karen Fluck, Recruiting Operations Officer. "With 13 women, it is the largest number of females ever for the ECP." Fluck is a graduate of the United States Military College at West Point and served in the US Army. She has been in her current role at VFMC since 2015.

Commissioning Officers

The ECP program enables cadets to become commissioned officers in the US Army while earning an Associate degree. The accelerated path is completed in two years and not the four years of a traditional ROTC program. Valley Forge Military College is only one of four in the US to offer the ECP. On completion, cadets are commissioned as Second Lieutenants and will serve in the Army Reserve or National Guard, while completing their bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university.

"This is a challenging program," said Fluck. "Candidates complete the Basic School in August and are sworn in when leadership determines they are qualified for the oath. That oath commits them to the program and to service to the country. We develop their confidence and continuously train to develop them into the leaders our military needs for the future."

"In addition to the classes associated with their majors, they participate in ongoing rigorous physical training including land navigation, casualty evacuation procedures, squad tactics, advancing marksmanship and rifle range practice in the area around Valley Forge Military College and also at Fort Indian Town Gap," said Fluck.

Overcoming Challenges

The Forge Stakes, a 36-hour physical training exercise, is a pivotal challenge for college cadets which when successfully completed, enables them to earn their capshield for their covers.

Other challenges include the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, a weekend of field training exercises in October, the Army 10 miler, the Raider Challenge, a physical training event hosted at VMMC for high school JROTC units, a land navigation day at Fort Indiantown Gap, and the Fort Knox Ranger Challenge where the Battalion competes against all other military schools in infantry-like events.

Cadets will choose the branch of service of active-duty Army , National Guard, or Army Reserves, and will serve for a minimum of four years of active duty or eight years in the reserve units or National Guard. Historically 30 percent of each class selects active duty and the remainder, the National Guard or Army Reserves.

New Professor of Military Science and Senior Officer Named for VFMC's Army ROTC

New Professor of Military Science and Senior Officer Named for VFMC's Army ROTC

Lieutenant Colonel Josh Meyer is the new professor of military science and senior officer for the Army ROTC Continental Line Battalion at VFMC, the Military College of Pennsylvania. Beginning this role in the 2021-2022 academic year, he is responsible for cadet training and mentorship preparing VFMC's future officers for service in the US Army.

"I went to a military college and commissioned through ROTC, so my heart gravitates toward a place like Valley Forge," said LTC Meyer. "VFMC is a great school with a strong history and powerful future, and my family and I are excited to be part of it."

Military science focuses on leadership, communication, ethics, self-development, and military education including theories, tactics, and strategies to deter adversaries and win in any environment. Most importantly, military science is constantly evolving to account for changes in technology, generational differences, and geopolitical impacts on the country and Army.    

"Our cadets are excited and eager to learn," said LTC Meyer. "Their positive attitudes are contagious, and they recognize the unique value and perspective this program provides. They work hard every day and are making the most of the Valley Forge and Early Commissioning Program experience."

LTC Meyer is a 2005 Distinguished Military Graduate from Norwich University where he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in Army Aviation. He holds a BA in Criminal Justice from Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont, and an MA in Military Operational Art and Science from Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

His military education includes the Aviation Officer Basic Course, Aviation Captain's Career Course, and the Air Command and Staff College. Additionally, LTC Meyer is a graduate of the Summer and Winter Mountain Warfare Schools, Air Assault School, and is an instructor pilot in the UH-60A/L and UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters.

Throughout his career he has served in a variety of command and staff positions with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, The United States Army Aviation Center of Excellent at Fort Rucker, Alabama, the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, and the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. LTC Meyer deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and to Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve. His most recent assignment was as a Presidential Airlift Coordinator for the White House Military Office in Washington, D.C. where he served as a lead planner for presidential and vice-presidential missions around the globe.

LTC Meyer's goals include enhancing the ROTC experience and strengthening the incredible bonds between the Army ROTC program and VFMC. Ultimately, the shared college and ROTC goal is commissioning officers with exceptional moral character and professional competencies to lead, inspire, and strengthen the Army and the nation.

He and his family live in Exton, PA and are excited to experience all that the Commonwealth has to offer while serving with the VFMC and ROTC families for up to the next four years.

President's Letter

Welcome to the Fall 2021 issue of The Forge. In keeping with the current movement away from print and toward electronic publication of news, we have decided to publish this newsletter so that it is accessible to you anywhere you may be on any device you may be using.

The format is designed for easy navigation so that you may quickly find news of interest to you. Of course, we think all the happenings here at the Forge are important and of interest! Nonetheless, this tabbed format offers a snapshot to take you quickly to specific categories of news.

We seek to report on the happenings here with this publication at least three times per year: Fall, Winter, and late Spring. And as always, there is a lot happening. Click through and you will learn about the new STEM lab and classroom at the Academy, new barracks for the Academy cadets, a return of sports, new appointments for the College ECP and the McMaster Center, and much, much more. For day-by-day updates, please visit Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

For our revered alumni, we want your stories. Please send news, pictures, happenings to tgoldblum@vfmac.edu so we can highlight your achievements and life events, and share those with everyone.

The stories here reflect a renewed and robust Forge as we embrace the 2021-2022 academic year in a very strong position. The Corps of Cadets is among the most academically advanced ever; the cadets at the college level are leaders already and growing stronger with the education they are receiving here, and our faculty and staff are better equipped to present the best military education available in the US – all shaped around the Five Cornerstones that have defined us since 1928.

Col. Stuart B. Helgeson, USMCR Retired,

Cadet Life at Valley Forge Military Academy and College
New Plebe Class Experiences Time-Tested and Successfully Validated Training

New Plebe Class Experiences Time-Tested and Successfully Validated Training

Eight different countries are represented in the group of 130 new plebes coming to VFMAC for the school year 2021-22. In addition to those from the US, plebes are from South Korea, China, Mexico, Mongolia, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Qatar. (Show more)

Plebe Summer
Arriving in mid-August, the plebes began focused, deliberate, and intense training intended to quickly mold them into VFMAC plebes, able to function when the remainder of the Corps of Cadets returns. They experience the traditions and customs of a VFMAC induction including having their heads shaved, receiving their new uniforms, marching, and the learning of the basics of a military model education.

They participate in regular early morning physical training to strengthen their bodies, learn how to work in squads and platoons, embrace the upperclassmen's leadership by example model, and learn to think not as individuals but as a unit. They learn the importance of the uniform they wear, the legacy of the long gray line, and the responsibility they have when they wear it. In addition, they become accustomed to the regimented routine of VFMAC and the expectations placed on them as plebes.

Plebe Fall
"The plebe system here at VFMAC is the beginning of helping these young men and women (in the college) recognize their full potential," said Col. JJ Rivera, commandant of Cadets. "We challenge them physically and mentally in a process proven over nearly 100 years to successfully prepare them to become successful contributors to society whether they choose a military career or something else."

The plebe system continues even after classes begin. The learning is shaped on a bedrock of the Honor System, with their honor code being "A cadet does not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do." This foundation on honor and integrity is what the Five Cornerstones of Academic Excellence; Personal Motivation; Character Development; Physical Development; and Leadership are built upon.

Plebe training will conclude when they demonstrate their willingness to place the mass of plebe brothers and sisters above themselves and to demonstrate a readiness of character that tells the Corps they are ready to receive the mantle of responsibility to continue the Corps' legacy.

Once it has been decided, the plebes will be put through a series of rigorous physical and mental exercises. Achieving cadet status is marked by a completion of those challenges and earning their Capshields, a brass medallion affixed to their covers. "This is an important day in the life of our cadets," said Col. Rivera. "Until they receive their Capshields, the area on their cover remains empty. There is considerable and rightful pride in having earned it and having it permanently affixed to their cover."

Sports at Valley Forge Military Academy and College
A Gridiron Upgrade Has Kicked Off and a Track Overhaul Is Out of the Block

A Gridiron Upgrade Has Kicked Off and a Track Overhaul Is Out of the Block

The VFMAC football field and surrounding track are getting a makeover. Beginning in the fall, work got underway to replace the existing grass field with turf and the track with a new surface.

Turf v. Grass
"Turf fields are more desirable and provide an overall better playing surface for teams playing there,” said George Else, facilities director. "The new field will be lined for a variety of sports, increasing the diversity of sports which can be played there.”

VFMA will use the field for its 8-man football team, various intramural sports, and with an eye toward the future, a lacrosse team. The VFMC ROTC program will use the field for routine PT and PT testing

The track surface has aged and has become damaged, Else said. The resurfacing will provide a cleaner look and a safer track on which to run.

Other work around the field and track is expected to include changes to the snack bar building and upgrades to the comfort facilities.

Like other schools in the region, VFMAC makes available its athletic fields for use by other organizations and colleges. Eastern University along with many soccer and lacrosse camps have signed long-term and year-round agreements to use the new turf field when it is completed.

Special attention has been given to water runoff and drainage to accommodate the location in what is known as the Chester County water conservation district. "Proper drainage is essential to maintain the field and track,” said Else.

The project is expected to take up to four months to complete. Cost for the redo is estimated at $1.5 million.

Sports Are Underway With VFMAC's Trojans Rivaling High Levels of Competition

Sports Are Underway With VFMAC's Trojans Rivaling High Levels of Competition

Varsity sports are back at VFMAC for the 2021-22 school year. After last year when covid caused an end to traditional team competition, cadets are starting the fall trying out for the seasonal sports of football and soccer.

VFMA is part of an eight-man football league. "The sport is gaining popularity at the high school level, especially among smaller schools," said Mike Muscella, '86, athletic director, and coach of the football team. "The game looks the same and is played with the same rules as the typical 11-man game except there are fewer players on the field and the field is slightly narrower." 2021 marks Muscella's 29th year working at VFMAC.

The eight-man football began at VFMA in 2019 with a team comprising primarily freshmen and sophomores. With them returning in their junior and senior year, Muscella expects the team to be more competitive within the league. "The model of eight-man opens up playing opportunities to cadets who may not have the typical football build," said Muscella. "There is room for smaller players to play competitively and well, and the more involved and passionate the players are, the more likely they are to win."

Gridiron Upgrade
The VFMAC football field and track are undergoing an upgrade. As a result, VFMAC will not host any games this year. All games will be played on Saturdays at one of the three opponent schools of Perkiomen Prep, Mercersburg Academy, or Delaware County Christian School.

Soccer will play again this year. Part of the very competitive bicentennial league, the soccer team will play 11 games, six home and five away. Opponents in soccer include Renaissance Academy, Mast Charter, and Faith Christian Academy. The team will have 20 players.

The Military College of Pennsylvania, VFMC, will field a cross-country club team. A varsity level sport, the team will travel to invitational meets to compete against other schools. There are 24 members of the cross-country team.
Practice for basketball and swimming will begin in November.

Intramural sports
Intramural sports competition continued last year during covid with e-Sports gaining in popularity. Considered a varsity sport, the playing field for gaming is on the second floor of Mellon Hall. Equipped with proper gaming chairs and technology, team members practice daily with as much discipline as contact sports. Started during covid, the e-Sports team will continue this year.
Other intramural sports include football, soccer, floor hockey and basketball. These sports rotate every four weeks to give players an opportunity to play a variety of sports. "We find middle school cadets are particularly active in the intramural opportunities and then as upper-class cadets, they may choose options," said Muscella.

Go Trojans!

Galactical Intentions for New VFMA Soccer Coach

Galactical Intentions for New VFMA Soccer Coach

To the cosmos and beyond!

Sounding a little bit like Buzz Lightyear, Robert Herburger has etched out a lofty target for the Academy soccer team this season.

An English teacher with the Academy, Mr. Herburger is in his first year as the team's coach. "Education at VFMA occurs on many levels. Athletics is a vital necessity to develop a complete individual," he said. "Team sports teach the importance of responsibility and the need to rely on teammates."

Mr. Herburger is under no illusions. VFMA is part of the very competitive Bicentennial League. Fielding 20 players, the team will play 11 games, most at home on Wednesday afternoons through the fall.

"This is a solid team," he said. "They are coming together well and recognizing one person can neither win nor lose a match on his own and that reaching the cosmos will require full effort by each player."

While serving in active duty for the US Navy, Mr. Herburger and his fellow servicemembers had a mantra of One Team! One Fight! He has incorporated the chant into pregame warmups and after practice.

As of the publication date, the team has a record of 1-3.

The Alumni SPOTLIGHT on General Gustave F. Perna

The Alumni SPOTLIGHT on General Gustave F. Perna

VFMAC has a long list of notable alumni. This SPOTLIGHT is on General Gustave F. Perna, USA '81C. Recently retired as a four-star general, he is taking part in the HR McMaster Center for Security Studies lecture series.

General Perna and will address cadets and alumni via Zoom on November 18. He will discuss his VFMC experience and share how current cadets can leverage their own experiences to be successful in the army.

General Perna's last command was Operation Warp Speed, guiding the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.  His forty-year career included numerous staff and command roles including the Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal on Thursday September 9, 2016. His previous duties were as the U.S. Army's Deputy Chief of Staff, G -4, where he oversaw policies and procedures used by 270,000 Army logisticians throughout the world. Prior to joining the Army staff, he served for two years as Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/4, U.S. Army Materiel Command, one of the Army's largest commands with 70,000 employees impacting all 50 states and 155 countries. He was then appointed by President Donald Trump to be the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, the creation, distribution, and delivery of the Covid 19 vaccines.

General Perna's other command assignments include: Commander, Joint Munitions Command and Joint Munitions and Lethality Lifecycle Management Command, responsible for the lifecycle management of $40 billion of conventional ammunition; Commander, Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Defense Logistics Agency, responsible for the procurement of more than $14.5 billion worth of food, clothing, textiles, medicines, medical supplies, construction and equipment items for America's Warfighters and other customers worldwide; Commander, 4th Sustainment Brigade, where he deployed the brigade to combat operations during OIF 05 - 07; Commander, 64th Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, where he deployed the battalion to combat operations during OIF I; Deputy Commanding Officer, 64th Corps Support Group, 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas; and Commander, B Company, 143rd Ordnance Battalion, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Netflix and Reelz Film <i>First In: The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden</i> Has Ties to VFMAC

Netflix and Reelz Film First In: The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden Has Ties to VFMAC

Honoring those lost twenty years ago on 911 served as a poignant reminder about the sacrifice made by many and the subsequent events to prevent an attack like it from happening again in the US and elsewhere.

Concurrent with the War on Terror was a sustained effort to find and bring to justice Osama Bin Laden, founder of the terror organization al-Qaeda. A successful mission by special forces on May 2, 2011, resulted in the death of Bin Laden.

An original Netflix documentary, First In: The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden, tells the story of those in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) charged with locating him.

The film features one-on-one interviews with those global leaders in intelligence, military, and elected officials who led the decade-long effort. The film describes what his life in hiding was like, the terrorist training camps, the mountain fighting in the elevations of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the fear among his followers about strikes by US forces.

Mark Kelton, VFMA '74 spent 34 years with the CIA and served as the agency's station chief in Pakistan. Leading the team protecting the nation's most closely guarded secrets, he was directly involved in this assignment. He is featured in the documentary.

VFMAC premiered the documentary in September and Mr. Kelton was on hand to introduce the film and answer questions.

Currently, Mr. Kelton is Director of MEK & Associates, LLC. Among other notable honors, he is a recipient of the CIA Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

The documentary is available now on the Reelz network.

What Is Your Legacy? 
And How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

What Is Your Legacy? And How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

VFMAC is about Honor and Courage, and the institution takes special care to honor those whose gifts transform generosity into a perennial legacy.

The LTG Milton G. Baker Society is an honor reserved for individuals who make a documented legacy gift or bequest to VFMAC.

Naming VFMAC in your will leaves a perpetual legacy by which you are remembered and eternally linked to the mission of VFMAC. These gifts support cadets for generations to come.

More practically, a legacy gift may lessen a family's tax burden without impacting current cash flow.

Become a member of the LTG Milton G. Baker Society by including language in your will or trust specifying a gift in cash or stock be made to VFMAC as part of your estate plan.

For assistance, contact Tom Goldblum '69, '71C, director of alumni relations, 610-989-1329 or tgoldblum@vfmac.edu.

Class Notes

Class Notes

Class '60

F. A. "Skip" DeVilling '60

"Skip" DeVilling '60 is based in Sarasota, Fl., since 2001. He can be contacted at skip@devilling.com.

Class of ‘69

Isaac Hayden Lutterloh, III '69

Isaac Hayden Lutterloh, III '69 retired from his post as assistant fire chief of the Sanford, NC fire department and takes an active role with Disaster Relief Missions across the country including the Hurricane relief in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.


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Panama Awaits! Join VFMAC Alumni for Exclusive Events

Panama Awaits! Join VFMAC Alumni for Exclusive Events

Approximately 90 graduates of VFMAC now call Panama home – including the current president of the Central American nation, President Laurentino Cortizo, '72 VFMC.

Reconnecting with alumni coupled with the beautiful landscapes and rich history and culture make it a perfect winter getaway for VFMAC alums who want to engage with Panama and reengage with one another.

Organized by Col. William "Wild Bill" Ridley, USA (Retired) of BK Tours & Travel, the eight-day tour runs January 16 through 23, 2022. Highlights of the travel include:

- A tour of the Panama Canal including a partial ride through the Canal and a visit to the Miraflores Locks and the Canal Museum
- Visits to Old Panama and the colonial town and World Heritage Site, Casco Antiguo
- A train ride through Panama to Fort Lorenzo which dates to the 1500's and then to the Caribbean city of Colon
- An adventure to El Valle de Anton, a valley crater from an extinct volcano, and visits to nearby botanical gardens and zoo
- A motorized canoe ride to Embera Village, an indigenous Indian village where residents live as they did since before the days of Columbus
- A Pacific Ocean private beach day with thatched huts and hammocks on which to while away the day

A private reception by Panama president and VFMC alumni Laurentino Cortizo, '72C is planned. Alumni living in Panama are planning to join for all or parts of the trip.

The cost includes airfare from Washington, D.C., all transfers and ground transportation, seven nights at the deluxe Central Hotel Panama, breakfast and other meals to be determined, admission to all tour sites and museums, English speaking guides, travel insurance, and the (pending) reception with President Cortizo.

For more information, contact wridley@bktravel.com or wridley@vfmac.edu, 703-250-3044.

Starting the Year With Gratitude

Starting the Year With Gratitude

VFMAC kicks off its 94th corps of cadets with a huge thank you for the gifts that we have received this past year.

The cadets returned to Shannon Hall with a new roof, Martin Hall that has been redone and brand-new gates have been replaced at Continental Drive and in front of the Mess Hall.

As VFMAC approaches its centennial, our vision is to invest in facilities, activities and programs to assure our cadets continue to receive the very best military education available in the US.

Plans are underway for a 2021 Fall Appeal and for a Giving Tuesday to occur on Tuesday, November 30.

The goal this year is to exceed last year's one day total Giving Tuesday of $40,000. With your help we can achieve this goal.

Funds raised will be used for updating the televisions, theatre screen and projector in the Boodle, and to enhance the safety and security for all with barrier gates (yard arms) at our vehicle points of entrance to campus.

The new VFMAC turf field and track are under construction and will enhance our physical development cornerstone. The second phase of this major renovation project, we will need a new press box, score board and stands. This will afford VFMAC one of the nicest facilities in the area.

For information about how to participate in the Fall Appeal and Giving Tuesday, contact the Development office at 610/989-1328 or email: development@vfmac.edu

Support VFMAC



George C. Yates '43
Robert L. O'Connell '47
Richard Brown '48
Raymond Phillips '48

Nicholas V. Sciarappa '51
Ron E. DuBois, Jr. '52
William E. D. Geoghegan '53
Louis H. Manarin, Ph.D. '53C
Sigmund Gast '55C
Jerome M. Rothschild '57
Neil L. Strauss '59

Charles O. Marte '62
Ronald J. Calhoun '65, '67C
Robert F. Sidow '68
Gerald Hale '69

John Stephen Phillips '87C