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Military

These alumni are recognized for their work with the military.

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J. Scott Burhoe

J. Scott Burhoe (sociology 1976) assumed duties as the 39th superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in January 2007. Rear Adm. Burhoe’s staff assignments have been focused primarily in human resources. He has a master’s of public administration from American University and earned his commission after graduating from Officer Candidate School in 1977.

Jody Breckenridge

Jody Breckenridge (biology 1975) is a vice admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area.

Lance L. Smith

Lance L. Smith (business administration 1969), formerly the deputy of the command overseeing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, received his fourth star in November 2005, becoming the second of Virginia Tech’s two four-star generals.

Joseph R. Inge

Joseph R. Inge (agricultural and applied economics 1969) concluded a 38-year military career in 2007 as deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command, and vice commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command. Lt. Gen. Inge currently serves as a consultant to the United Nations, as well as numerous educational institutions and firms.

Thomas T. Thompson

Thomas T. Thompson (agricultural and applied economics 1956) served for 34 years in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard, retiring as commander of the 29th Light Infantry Division while holding the rank of major general. He also built a successful development and real estate business in the Hampton Roads area. In recognition of his professional achievements, he was elected life director of the National Association of Homebuilders in 2001. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Alumni Inc.

Thomas C. Richards

Thomas C. Richards (general business 1956) is one of Virginia Tech’s two four-star generals. He was deputy commander-in-chief of the U.S. European Command, a former commandant of the Air Force Academy, and head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Richards fought in the infantry during the Korean War. He was wounded in action and, while recovering, was recruited to play football at Virginia Tech. He did so as a member of the 1954 team that won all but one game.

Archie Cannon

Archie Cannon (business administration 1950) retired from the U.S. Army in 1987 as the deputy chief of staff, personnel, for the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army. During his service, Cannon held a variety of command and staff positions in places such as Germany, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. He has been honored and recognized with awards and decorations that include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Richard Thomas Shea Jr.

Richard Thomas Shea Jr. (Army Specialized Training Program 1948) received the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic actions near Sokkogae, Korea. In more than 18 hours of heavy fighting against superior numbers, he moved among the defenders of Pork Chop Hill to ensure a successful defense and then led a counterattack, killing three enemy soldiers and refusing evacuation when wounded. He was killed in hand-to-hand combat while leading another counterattack. (Did not graduate.)

Robert E. Femoyer

Robert E. Femoyer (1944) was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroism in World War II. In action over Germany, he navigated his anti-aircraft-riddled airplane, a B-17 Flying Fortress, to safety in England, saving the lives of his crew even though he was mortally wounded -- and in fact refused morphine to stay alert enough to return to base. He died on Nov. 2, 1944, an hour after landing his plane. Feymoyer Hall honors his memory. (Did not graduate.)

Richard F. Wilkinson

Richard F. Wilkinson (conservation and forestry 1942) fought in World War II in Company C, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division, which campaigned in Africa and Italy and saw more than 500 days of combat -- more than any other American division -- and lost 21,362 of its men. Wilkinson earned the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Presidential Unit Citation, which indicated that each of the 600 men under his command -- and their leader -- deserved the Distinguished Service Cross. In 2005, Wilkinson published The Breakthrough Battalion: Battles of Company C of the 133rd Infantry Regiment, Tunisia and Italy 1943-1945.

Herbert J. Thomas

Herbert J. Thomas (business administration 1941) was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross posthumously for heroism on the Solomon Islands during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. While leading his troops against Japanese forces, a grenade he tossed bounced back amid his men. He flung himself across the grenade, sacrificing his own life to save his comrades. While a student at Virginia Tech, he was a nationally recognized varsity football player. A residence hall on campus, a destroyer, and a hospital bear his name.

Jimmie W. Monteith Jr.

Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. (mechanical engineering 1941) received the Medal of Honor posthumously for courage and gallantry while leading his men in destroying an enemy emplacement on the Normandy beachhead on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Monteith Hall honors his memory. (Did not graduate.)

James F. Van Pelt Jr.

James F. Van Pelt Jr. (biology 1940) was the navigator of a B-29 Superfortress in both atomic bomb attacks against Japan at the close of World War II. He navigated the instrument ship in the first attack against Hiroshima, and his airplane dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Earle D. Gregory

Earle D. Gregory (electrical engineering 1923), known as the "Sgt. York of Virginia" by newspapers nationwide, was the first native Virginian to receive the Medal of Honor. At Bois de Consenvoye, France, on Oct. 18, 1918, he single-handedly captured 22 German soldiers and two machine guns, saving countless American lives. The university’s Gregory Guard precision drill team is named in his honor. (Did not graduate.)

Lewis A. Pick

Lewis A. Pick (civil engineering 1914) was the engineer in World War II who built the "road that could not be built,” the Burma Road (known as Pick’s Pike). Later, he became chief of engineers for the U.S. Army and attained the rank of lieutenant general.

Robert C. Macon

Robert C. Macon (mechanical engineering 1912), a major general commanding the 83rd Infantry Division during World War II, accepted the surrender of German Gen. Maj. Botho Elster and his 18,850 troops and 754 officers near Beaugency, France, in what Life magazine called "one of the largest and most fantastic surrenders in this war."

Lloyd Williams

Lloyd Williams (Class of 1907) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer during World War I. One of the more famous quotes of World War I was attributed to him. When advised to withdraw at the defensive line just north of the village of Lucy-le-Bocage on June 1,1918, he is said to have replied, “Retreat, hell! We just got here!” Williams did not survive the ensuing battle and was posthumously promoted to major and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Major Williams Hall was named for him in 1957. Williams is the first Virginian known to have died in World War I.

Julien E.V. and Antoine A.M. Gaujot

Julien E.V. Gaujot (1893) and his brother, Antoine A.M. Gaujot (1900), both received the Medal of Honor. Stationed at Douglas, Ariz., in 1911, Julien saw several people killed by stray gunfire from across the Mexican border. Infuriated, he rode his horse across the border in the face of the gunfire, halting further bloodshed and leading five Americans to safety. Antoine was recognized for bravery shown at San Mateo, Philippines, in 1899. Under heavy fire, he swam a river and returned to his own forces with a boat, the only means of passage for his forces to pursue insurrectionists. (Did not graduate.)