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Charles Edward Stokes Elected to GMSAA Hall of FAme

Charles Edward Stokes, Jr., Colonel United States Army (Retired). Greenbrier Military School (GMS) Class of 1956. He came to GMS from Buffalo, WV and sent four year at GMS. He served as Executive Officer of Band Company, playing football on the Junior Varsity (High School) Team. He played trumpet and a very distinguishable revile and taps. He currently resides at Holden Beach, NC.
Charles has a Bachelor’s Degree from West Virginia State (WVSU) and a Master’s from Louisiana State University in Political Science. He is also a graduate of Senior Services College (War College with less that 2% selection from all services) and the Foreign Service Institute
His teaching experience includes International Relation and African Affairs, Campbell University, Military Science, WVSU, Comparative Political Systems and Government & Politics of Latin America at the United States Military Academy (West Point), and University of Maryland (Overseas Program, Korea).
Charles military career spans over 25 years. He is a Viet Nam Veteran. His Awards and Decorations include Master Parachute Badge, Ranger Tab, Bronze Star with V device, Air Medal. Legion of Merit, and two Purple Hearts. Most of Charles’ service was as a Tactical Strategic Intelligence Officer (TSIO) which includes Psychological Operations and Civil Affairs (PSYOPOS-CA). The standards for the Branch assignment are very high and include Combat Arms Basic and Advance Course, Airborne, Masters Degree, Language skills (reading, writing, and speaking). Advancement in the Branch includes service as a Detachment Commander, Staff Officer at the Battalion level, Instructor in a Service School, Staff Officer at a Brigade or higher organization. Officer in a Special Forces Group, Headquarters Company Commander, and Political Military Affairs Officer in a Psychological Operations Command, and Propaganda Officer .
Charles’ last active duty command was Deputy Commander of the Special Warfare Center and School, FT. Bragg, NC his duties included overseeing curricula directed toward engaging Special Operations in the Global War on Terror. He was responsible for the entire Special Warfare Center and not just the Special Forces School.
To truly appreciate and understand Charles’ contribution to our national interest, one must look at the dates of his service, locations, political and historical significance, and the state of world affairs. 1964-65: Commander of the 681st Intelligence Corps Detachment, Dominican Republic: 1967-68: Commander, 181 MI Company, 101st Airborne Division, Republic of South Vietnam, and operational control of the 2nd South Vietnam Military Intelligence Company; 1978-80: Commander, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion Of which there is only one active duty Battalion in the entire United States Army; 1980-82: Commander, Recruiting Battalion, WV achieveing a successful rating of 8th out of 56 (previously the rate was 52 out of 56); 1982-85: Defense Attache, Guatemala, during a time when Nicaragua was near collapse and falling under communist control, Honduras was in conflict with the Contras and El Salvador was having civil strife, and the Northern half of Guatemala was being overrun by communist guerillas.; 1985-86: Director of International studies at John F. Kennedy Center, Ft. Bragg, NC; 1990-93: 1st Gulf War, Charles was selected as support manager, wrote execution , alert, defense plans for expatriates, and evacuation plans for the Saudi families, Support Manager for Saudi Naval Base, Jubail, Saudi, Arabia; 2000-2002: Republic of Nigeria, source of 17% of the United States’ crude oil , recognizing the need for a stable and civilian government. Charles provided consultation to reform Nigerian Armed Forces and wrote their National Security Strategy and Defense Policy; 2003-07: Lead seventy monitors and support staff investigating allegations of abuse and atrocities against civilian in Sudan and Kenya. Charles considers his assignment as Deputy and later Project Manager of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team his most noble position ever held; 2006-2007: Ethiopia, neighboring Somalia and considered one of the most dangerous areas of the world. Somalia was previously controlled by warlords and is best known for the incident of “Blackhawk Down”. Somalia is now controlled by Ethiopia, and Charles was charged with Curriculum and Coordinator and Principal Instructor in the Ethiopean Defense and Staff College; 2008-09: Charles was hired by the Department of Defense as Program Manager, Special Operations in Zamboanga, Philippines. The area is an Al Qaeda stronghold on the Sullu Sea which is considered by many as the second most dangerous region in the world for piracy and second only to the Horn of Africa/Somalia.
Charles has had a most interesting career and has brought credit to GMS, his country and himself. We are proud to name him to the GMS Wall of Honor.

President’s Message for August Record

Written by Grey Webb:

As this will be my last President's Message for the Alumni Record, I’d like to write about one of my favorites subjects: History.

Last year we celebrated 200 years of education in Lewisburg but more importantly from our perspective, the 200th anniversary of the founding of what would eventually become Greenbrier Military School. This year West Virginia celebrates their 150th year of statehood. Both anniversaries are connected and are the reason we all share this common identity, namely Greenbrier Military School. When Dr. John McElhenney made his way north from South Carolina to the small village of Lewisburg in what was then Western Virginia, he had no way of knowing the long lasting consequences of his actions. Often the greatest and most important exploits tend to go unnoticed at the time. To be sure Dr. McElhenney could not have envisioned the thousands of young men who would be directly influenced by his commitment to eduction. Even today his legacy transcends history and directly influence medical students at WVSOM.

Men and women make history everyday although the significance of their endeavors will not be known or appreciated for some time. I’m reminded of that humble but well crafted line from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” History has an elegant way of filtering out the important from the mere inconsequential.

As is often quoted in these pages: “Something important happened here.” Certainly to those of us who attended GMS, this place is special. These grounds may not be hallowed, but for those of us who experienced Greenbrier, they come close. We lived here, we learned here and we gained a sense of self here. The institution’s original mission itself may have changed, but young people continue to live here, learn here and by all means gain a sense of self here. Life continues and history will record it, great or small; good or bad.

In the span of our lifetime we’ve witnessed a transformation not only in our selves but in the very institution that provided that history. Our school’s history will endure as long as we honor it. Change is inevitable and how we deal with it affects us directly.

History is about our yearning to identify with the past. It is about our desire to hold on to some stability and the perception of continuity. We arrive here in Lewisburg every October desiring to find a source to our present identity. We live again in the 1950s or 60s searching for fading echoes of our beloved Greenbrier. In many ways they were never lost, only hidden away in a long forgotten memory that springs to life on the Front Formation Court during Retreat or at Old Stone Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning.

However you define history, Greenbrier Military School played an important role by endowing our country with men of truth, duty and honor. Our Hall of Fame comprises only a small sample of those men. From our halls came future leaders in the Armed Forces, the professions, business and industry spreading the character, discipline and leadership that was forged here. When we gather again this October we can stand tall knowing that we are indeed part of history.

And now, like so many other chapters in our lives, our Association is about to turn the page on yet one more. I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve GMSAA, an honor well above my pay grade. To borrow from the Hippocratic Oath, my first duty was to do no harm. Your Association will be in excellent hands with President Bill Isbister. He brings a wealth of experience to the office and will lead our Association as we tread into uncharted waters. Our future is bright as our history is secure.

Alumni Record Article for Spring Edition

Written by Grey Webb:

Our reunion this past October celebrating the founding of our beloved Greenbrier Military School was a huge success. Record numbers were in attendance and the weather cooperated to make it a perfect weekend.

The reunion kicked off for many on Thursday evening at the Greenbrier Visitor’s Center. Herb over the years has always tried to add events to attract and entertain early arrivals and the Visitor’s Center proved to be a great venue for reuniting, socializing and making plans for the weekend.

The weekend officially began on Friday evening at our Retreat Formation. We were again entertained with a wonderful rendition of Greenbrier Forever played for us by the Greenbrier East High School Band. Special thanks to Beaman Cummings and his committee for organizing our Retreat Formations. It’s a perfect way to kick off our reunions. A wonderful dinner of prime rib followed and set the tone for what was to come.

Saturday morning’s special event was of course the appearance of Jim Justice,’70, owner of the Greenbrier Hotel and Resort, with his oversized check matching our own successful efforts in fundraising for our Greenbrier Leadership Institute. A special thanks to each one of you who contributed to this great effort. Because of you and Jim Justice, GLI now has the financial resources to implement new strategies and to reach more students.

The festivities continued Saturday evening at the Greenbrier Hotel with a wonderful dinner dance accompanied by the musical talents of Bobby Nicholas and his band. More than one person mentioned to me that we should try to plan another dinner dance at the Greenbrier in the near future. I’m sure memories of Final Balls long past circulated the banquet room.

Sunday morning’s church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian church topped what was the most anticipated and certainly the most attended reunion weekends in our thirty year history. The brass ensemble playing New Orleans style gospel jazz, singing the Recessional and listening to some great preaching, all made for a memorable service and a conclusion to an unforgettable reunion weekend.

Thanks to Herb and Phil for organizing and pulling off the big event. Let me assure you we’re not done. Several alumni asked me if this reunion was our “Final, Final Ball”. Absolutely not! We are going to continue to hold our reunion weekends the third weekend in October as long as there are able bodied alumni to attend. Certainly we want to provide the opportunity for all classes to celebrate their 50th Class Reunion. I’ve been told the Class of ’63 has already begun their plans for a weekend that will rival last years. It’s not too early to make plans for this year’s reunion. Mark your calendars now for October 17-20.

If you haven’t ordered the DVD History of GMS, please do so by visiting our website and going to the ‘Store’ tab. Bob Boles and his committee have produced an outstanding presentation describing the history of Greenbrier Military School. We now have a definitive documented record, one that will provide a source for additional chapters in the future. Once you view it you will see it was a labor of love

Congratulations to our new board members: Jorge’ Martinez, C.J. Richardson and Terry Byrnes. We’re looking forward to their input and counsel to help direct your Association for the next five years. Also, I would like to thank our outgoing directors, Jim Anderson, Gene Beard, Robert Gamba and Duff Smith. Their service to GMSAA has been exemplary and I know they will continue to provide advice and guidance to the board of directors. If you have an interest in serving on the board of directors, please contact Herb or myself. Your Association is only as good as the direction we receive from our membership.

I would like to extend my special thanks to our Vice President, Bill Isbister, for his tireless work in researching, coordinating and ultimately writing several grant requests for GLI. Grant writing is a new avenue for us in regards to fundraising. Bill is putting his professional background to work for our benefit, and we’re grateful for his expertise.

Board member Jose’ Acosta, working with Phil McLaughlin and our accountant, Courtney Smith, has worked diligently to prepare our annual operating budget and in so doing, has given us a clearer picture of where we are fiscally. Let me assure you, your board of directors takes our financial operations very seriously. We understand and appreciate the fiduciary responsibility you have placed in us and we will continue to maintain the finances of your Association in the most conservative and transparent manner possible.

Let me close by thanking all of you who attended our special reunion: Celebrating 200 years of Education in Lewisburg. We know Greenbrier Military School played the most significant role in that history.

The Greenbrier Military School Story DVD

The Greenbrier Military School Story DVD is now available for purchase in the Cadet Store.

Go back in time and enjoy this 45 minute documentary that presents the Greenbrier Military School Story: Celebrating 200 Years of Education in Lewisburg, WV.

Greenbrier Military School was part of the educational landscape of Lewisburg for many years. In 1812, Dr. John McElhenney established a school known as "The Old Brick Academy". This school was the foundational institution from which Greenbrier Military School was born. Young men were educated at Greenbrier in a structured, discipline environment living by the standards of Truth, Duty and Honor until it closed in 1972. Greenbrier changed the lives of many who attended the school over the years. This program tells the story of the school, the staff, and the cadets.

The DVD was produced by GMS alumni Phil McLaughlin ('58), Bob Boles ('70) and Mike Ruth ('69) with generous support from the GMSAA.

Reconnect, Reminisce, Celebrate

Written by Grey Webb, August 2012.

The long hot summer is quickly coming to an end and our annual GMSAA reunion, believe it or not, is just around the corner. As you know this October, we will be celebrating Two Hundred Years of Education in Lewisburg. In my opinion Greenbrier Military School played the most significant chapter in that 200 year history. We gather this year to celebrate that role. As Herb Pearis is apt to say: “Something important happened here.”

The fact that so many of us return every year to reconnect, reminisce and celebrate our shared experiences is proof that Greenbrier Military School played a very significant part in our early lives. Those few minutes every October on the front formation court at Retreat seems to set the stage for another great weekend. Stories retold of mischievous pranks, memories of football games played on a cool crisp Saturday afternoon, or just seeing an old friend for the first time in 40 years, are just a few of the things that make the third weekend of October in Lewisburg special.

Our common experience at GMS bonds us and we recall those memories in a blink of an eye. Mention Kiwi shoe polish and we quickly bring to mind that peculiar combination of aromas with Brasso; think demerits and we all recall the beat; hear gig line and we instantly arrange our belts. So much of our life as cadets at Greenbrier was the same as those who came before and after us, making it easy to relate with others at our reunions.

For those attending our GMSAA reunion this October for the first time, you will notice changes to the old ‘Brier Campus. Of course the main building stands with it’s dignified entrance as it has for over nighty years. However, the upper drill field is now the site of new and modern multi-use buildings that have been built to facilitate the ever growing student body of The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM). Where once young uniformed GMS Cadets formed for Retreat or stood at attention for Sunday Dress Parades, now young energetic medical students stroll the campus. Education in Lewisburg, WV continues it’s 200 year tradition.

Our old campus may have changed, but not the memories. The term “Greenbrier Spirit” is often heard at our reunions. I’m not sure what that means exactly. If you ask, I’m sure you will not receive the same answer from any two alumni. As with most alumni, it’s a personal thing. After these many years, the connections we make are more important to us; they seem more meaningful. GMSAA reunions provide that connection to our shared past. Please use this special occasion to attend and find out for yourself what the “Greenbrier Spirit” means to you.

One last thing. Herb always says that, “We do church the best.” Let me personally invite you to attend the Sunday morning church service at the Old Stone Presbyterian Church. Without a doubt, it will lift your Spirit and send you off wanting to return the following year. Can I get an Amen?

--Grey Webb

Holiday Greetings from Grey Webb

As this is my first President’s Message I would like to thank, first, the Board of Directors for placing their confidence in me and allowing me to serve this great Association. Second, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding accomplishments of Duke Schneider. His stewardship and leadership has secured the future for our Association. His steady hand and vision for GMSAA has given me a positive example to follow. I’m sure all will agree with me that Duke truly represents the Greenbrier Military School Spirit.

Congratulations to our new Board of Directors: Calvin Garvin ’65, Ken Lewis ’57, Lee Martin ’64, and Perry Woodside ’64. They join our board for a five year term and I look forward to their support, advice and counsel. Leaving the board after serving their five year term are: Barney Burks, Jim Downer ’71, James “Deak” Roberts. We are grateful to these gentlemen for their valuable time and experience. If you are interested in serving on our Board, please contact Herb. We’re continually looking for those alumni who want to help oversee and guide the work of GMSAA.

This coming October will mark a milestone in the history of GMSAA. From the founding of the Brick Academy by Dr. John McElhenney, the forerunner of Greenbrier Military School in 1812, there has been an institution of learning in Lewisburg for 200 years. Although it has been 40 years since that sad day when Greenbrier closed, the fact that there still exists an active and committed alumni association is remarkable. The hard work of those alumni members in reviving our group should not be overlooked. Like Phoenix rising from the ashes, our Association has not only grown but flourished.

Our accomplishments are many. We’ve grown from a small group of alumni meeting in October to rekindle old friendships and recount stories (and possibly a few fibs) to a well structured association with over 2000 alumni and family on our mailing list. Our museum is furnished with memorabilia that defines our experience at the ‘Brier. The memorial park provides a fitting and sanctified place for those alumni who lost their lives defending our nation. We’ve funded thousands of dollars in scholarships to well deserving medical students at WVSOM. Our new web site has been recently updated and made more user-friendly and our biannual Alumni Record provides that personal connection that keeps us informed.

The future of GMSAA is bright. Our Greenbrier Leadership Institute is in its fourth year and is expanding to other venues in West Virginia. (Please read about our matching grant elsewhere in this issue of the Alumni Record) The GLI Program is truly becoming the living legacy we had envisioned, providing the youth of West Virginia with resources which promote character and leadership development, established on the GMS values of truth, duty and honor.

As I mentioned, our web site is new and improved. If you haven’t had the chance to visit, please do so. The sort capabilities have been greatly enhanced allowing you to find old classmates much easier. Let me also remind you while visiting the web site, to click on ‘The Cadet Store’ tab. If you haven’t seen the great selection of GMS items available, I think you’ll be surprised. Jim Downer has done an outstanding job of maintaining the store and now with the convenience of PayPAL, shopping is much more convenient. All profits help offset our operating costs and shipping is FREE.

We are looking forward to seeing you for this year’s special reunion. Plans are in the works for a great weekend. If you haven’t been to a GMSAA reunion or haven’t been back for several years, make sure you plan to attend this October, 18-21. From what I hear, rooms are going fast in Lewisburg. Phil McLaughlin has set aside a number of rooms at a special rate at the Greenbrier Hotel. Make sure you mention GMSAA when making your reservation.

Grey Webb

Greenbrier Leadership Institute Challenge 2011-2012

During the past four years, your Greenbrier Leadership Institute (GLI) of the Greenbrier Military School Alumni Association achieved considerable growth in its mission to pass on the leadership qualities and traits we learned as cadets. When the last retreat formation is held for our alumni, the only thing remaining with real staying power will be the legacy of leadership, we leave behind for future generations of young people.

Our goal is to build and expand the GLI to a point, which will put it on a path to sustainability and growth. When we were in Lewisburg this past October, we were invited to have lunch with Jim Justice, owner of The Greenbrier Hotel and GMS Alumnus, to discuss the GLI and the benefits it provides to the students of Greenbrier County. He recognized the value of our principle based leadership program and wanted us to expand it within Greenbrier County . He issued a challenge to the alumni of our GMSAA. He will provide $75,000 a yeart for three years to expand the GLI program within the Greenbrier County School System if the GMS Alumni will match his offer.

This is a unique opportunity to permamently establish and expand our leadership program as a lasting tribute to Greenbrier Military School, while providing a needed sevice to the youth of West Virginia. Please contribute as much as possible. so we can reach our goal of $75,000 for each of the next three years. Our first year campaigh begins now and will end on 1 September 2012

Beaman Cummings '63
Executive Director GLI

GMS Reunion Article in WVSOM Newsletter


Posted in: Oct. 19, 2011 - Vol 18, Issue 34
WVSOM Newscenter Campus and Community News

Greenbrier Military School alumni returned to Lewisburg Oct. 13-16 for an annual reunion. Some weekend events included leadership classes for students in Greenbrier County schools, a flag ceremony in front of the main building, dinner/dance at the alumni center and a Sunday service at Old Stone Presbyterian Church.
About 125 alumni and their guests attended the reunion activities throughout the weekend.
Soham Dave and Adele Plazak were recognized during the reunion for scholarships they received from the Greenbrier Military School Alumni Association.

Images Needed for Photo Gallery!

GMSAA is in need of your photographic skills, well maybe your parent's photographic skills. We are adding a new photographic gallery to the website and need you to send us your photographs. The gallery will be broken down into the following categories:

• Reunions,
• Formal Balls and Informal Dances,
• Athletics: Varsity and Intramural Sports,
• Parades, Drills and Military Events,
• General Cadet Life and Goofing Around (not that we ever did that),
• Miscellaneous,
• Plus, we need some pictures of Cadets with Family and Friends at and around GMS.

If you have photographs you would like to share and have access to a scanner, scan your photographs at high quality, full resolution JPEGs, original size, or you can scan at 300 dpi, TIFFs, also original size. Email them, with the information noted below, to:

Please add a brief caption of what the photo is about and most importantly who is in the photo.

When you send these include your name and a note stating these are your photographs and you give permission to the GMSAA to use these photos on the website.

Or, if you would rather send us the original photographs (but will take an extremely long time to post on the website), please send those to:

GMS Alumni Association
P.O.Box 922
Lewisburg, West Virginia 24901

Thank you for your help,
Mike Ruth, Class of '69

Cadet Store Now Online!

As of last week, the GMSAA Cadet Store is now online, which you will see a link above in the MAIN menu bar. Select that link to go to the store. The Cadet Store is very easy to navigate and there are many search options available using the menu on the left side of the store's main screen.

For example: if you enter the word GOLF in the search field above the Store's main window and press 'GO' your search will retrieve only items that relate to golf. If you select "Apparel and Fabrics" under the Categories menu of the left side of the window, and then enter GOLF in the search field, only apparel relating to GOLF will be displayed.

After selecting items from the store and adding them to your cart (you can continue shopping after each selection) you can view your cart in two ways, 1) in the upper left corner of the Cadet Store Menu click on the words 'Shopping cart' or 2) select 'View cart' in the same window. Your items and a description of your items will be displayed.

You can proceed and checkout by selecting the 'Checkout' link. Please note that you will be prompted and required to sign in to continue to purchase. Which means you need to be a registered user of the GMSAA.ORG website. So if you have not registered yet, this would be a good time to do so.

After signing in, you will be forwarded to the Checkout Screen where you complete the Billing and Mailing information. You will see that there is a choice of paying by credit card using our secured PayPal site, or by check. If you choose the pay by check option, place your order then send a check to the GMS Alumni Association at the address provided at the bottom of that screen. If you choose PayPal, follow instructions when prompted after reviewing your order.

Review your order and if it suits your approval, press the 'Submit Order' button on the lower right corner of the screen, and there you go, your order has been placed. If paying by check, orders will not be sent until check is received.

Also, it would be a good idea to print the Review Order page for your records. The Store will be demonstrated at the reunion.