Front & Center News from Fork Union Military Academy–January 30, 2017

Subscribe to Front & Center

Learn what's happening on the campus of Fork Union Military Academy by subscribing to Front & Center. You'll receive regular updates on the news, special events, and success stories from our Corps of Cadets, conveniently delivered to your inbox for easy viewing on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Want to view past issues of the Front & Center newsletter? Find them all on our website.

Stories in this issue:

  • LTC Houston Eldridge Selected as Commandant of Cadets
  • Chili Wars: Round Three
  • Middle School Dance Scheduled for February 10th
  • Praise Band Helps Lead Worship
  • CLUB SPOTLIGHT: Global Citizen's Club
  • PHOTO ESSAY: Our Maintenance Department
  • Our Band
  • FUMA Cadets Visit the University of Richmond
  • FUMA Parent, Mr. Collin Hite, Speaks on “Careers in the Legal Field”
  • Renaissance Event Rewards Zero Demerit Cadets
Cadets drill in the afternoons

LTC Houston Eldridge Selected as Commandant of Cadets

RADM Burhoe (at left) congratulates LTC Houston Eldridge on his selection as Commandant of Cadets.

RADM J. Scott Burhoe, the Academy's President, this past week announced the selection of LTC Houston Eldridge to serve as Fork Union Military Academy's Commandant of Cadets. Eldridge has been on the faculty and staff of the college-prep boarding school since 1999.

He served as a teacher of Social Studies, teaching AP US History, Honors World History, and AP US Government and Politics, and became Chairman of the Social Studies department. In 2014, he was appointed the Academy's first Director of Character and Leadership, responsible for directing school-wide programs in character and leadership development at the all-boys military school. He developed the curriculum and taught a leadership class in the summer school program for many years, and this past year began teaching a leadership class during the regular academic year for all sophomore students.

During his time at Fork Union Military Academy, Eldridge created and coordinated the annual Civics Day at which cadets hear speakers representing national, state, and local candidates for election, and participate in forums, debates, and a mock election. He also created and served as editor for the newsletter Front & Center during the time that print newsletter was being published. He has been tapped by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools to serve as a member of a visiting accreditation committee reviewing other schools, and has served as the Military Committee chairman in conjunction with the Academy's own ongoing school accreditation process. He has served the school as head lacrosse coach (2003-2011) and assistant football coach.

Eldridge received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in Psychology, from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. He earned a Masters Degree in Public Policy Journalism from Regent University. In addition, he has completed a number of hours of classwork towards a second Masters Degree in Teaching: Continuing Education from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. His education and training also includes certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, Smoke Jumper School with the US Forestry Service, and courses in Advanced Trauma Life Support at Walter Reed Medical Center.

He served for two decades in the US Army with Special Forces involved in counter-terrorism and threat analysis operations around the world. In 2002, he was Battle Captain of the 3rd Special Forces Group at a Forward Operations Base in Afghanistan as one of the first military elements sent into that country following the events of September 11, 2001.

In announcing Eldridge's selection, RADM J. Scott Burhoe, the Academy's President, expressed his deep appreciation to 1SGT Eugene Brice, USMC, Ret., for "the tremendous work" he did serving as Acting Commandant in the past several weeks. 1SGT Brice will continue in his position as Deputy Commandant. "1SGT Brice will be a valuable mentor and supporter for LTC Eldridge during this transition," RADM Burhoe said, "and we are very fortunate for his commitment to service and his adherence to the Marine Corps motto of 'Always Faithful.'"

In describing his selection of LTC Eldridge as Commandant, RADM Burhoe said, "I always envisioned that the Director of Character and Leadership and Commandant of Cadets would be the same person. I interviewed external candidates and internal ones, and believe that Houston's leadership expertise and experience, as well as his level of advanced education, make him the ideal choice to serve as our 'Dean of Student', which is truly the role our Commandant of Cadets serves."

Highlights from LTC Eldridge's Career

Some highlights from the career of LTC Houston Eldridge, from his early days with the smokejumpers of the National Forest Service to his time with Special Forces in locations ranging from "I can't tell you," to Beirut in Lebanon, to jumping with the British SAS over the North Sea, to "somewhere in the Middle East, but can't say where," to along the southern USA border with the DEA, to a forward operations base in Afghanistan. LTC Eldridge's FUMA career has included leadership of the Boy Scouts, the founding of Civics Day, chaperoning cadet leaders to a national symposium on leadership at the US Air Force Academy, teaching leadership and character through outdoor activities, to coaching football and serving as a mentor to cadets of all walks.
Free time in the Social Center

Chili Wars: Round Three

Athletic Department Overpowers Academic Department

RADM Burhoe joins in trying out the Chili Wars recipes this past Thursday.

In an epic battle, the combatting chefs of the Academic and Athletic Departments squared off in the kitchen to battle for the can opener and cooking skillets in preparing their chili recipes for competition this past Thursday.

As the lunchtime tasting got underway, Director of Dining Services Larry McIlnay reports that the competition was "neck and neck, until the Athletic Department's training and conditioning proved to be too much for the Academic Department."

The Athletic Department won the vote going away with a landslide 157 to 101 victory, and earned the right to face the winning cadet company in the Chili Championship to be held on February 8th.

This week will see the momentous struggle between three cadet companies as Alpha, Charlie, and Echo all try to outdo each other in this annual chili cook-off.

  • Thursday, February 2: A three-way competition between Alpha, Charlie, and Echo
  • Thursday, February 8: Chili Championship (Cadet Winner vs. Staff & Faculty Winner)
Ring Ceremony will be held this Thursday, February 2nd at 10:15 AM

Middle School Dance Scheduled for February 10th

Ms. Amy Reese, Activities Coordinator, has announced plans to hold a Middle School Dance on Friday, February 10th, from 7 to 9 PM. The dance will be held in the Social Center in Vaughan Hall. The cadets of the Middle School are inviting young ladies in Grades 7 & 8, from the Fluvanna County Middle School, as well as young ladies from other schools, home schools, and anywhere else throughout the region, to join them for this special occasion. Please help spread the word!

Cadets enjoy warm honey buns in the Social Center last Wednesday

Praise Band Helps Lead Worship

This past Thursday during Chapel Service, the cadet praise band helped provide worship music. The praise band is under the direction of CW4 Bruce Patterson and includes singers and instrumentalists.

Cadets access WiFi in the Beatty Library

CLUB SPOTLIGHT: Global Citizen's Club

The Global Citizen's Club. led by Mrs. Katherine Giszack, promotes cultural awareness and includes cadets from the United States and around the world.

COL Steve Macek took a group of cadets to Chef Lee's chinese restaurant to celebrate the Chinese new lunar year, the year of the rooster. This is the 4,714th new year celebrated by the Chinese.

Our Maintenance Department

We wanted to take the opportunity to thank the hard-working staff of our Maintenance Department who work diligently each day to keep our buildings maintained, the water flowing in our pipes, our grounds beautifully landscaped, and all the broken things repaired. Our school couldn't function without these skilled craftsmen and dedicated employees.

Thank you!

Thank you to our Maintenance Department

They keep our buildings in shape, our grounds landscaped...

Our facilities clean, our vehicles running...and so much more!

Our Band

Fork Union Military Academy's band has a long history, dating back to the first contingent of buglers in 1906 who helped provided cadence for cadets on parade. A Drum and Bugle Corps was organized in about 1911 and continued until about 1919 when a small instrumental band with twelve musicians was organized under the direction of band leader Cadet Captain H. Roe Bartle (FUMA Class of 1920). In 1921, this band replaced the Drum and Bugle Corps as Fork Union Military Academy's band and the group continued until 1925, when the group was disbanded due to the lack of enough brass instruments. The Drum and Bugle Corps was again reactivated at this time.

The Academy's first official marching band was created in 1929 in order to comply with requirements of the ROTC program. Faculty officer, Captain G. Reton Edgerton, was the marching band's first director. Captain Reton Edgerton, often referred to as "the Father of the Academy Band," served three separate stints as band director from 1929 until 1946, 1947 to 1951, and 1954 to 1957.

The FUMA Marching Band in 1931 with director Captain G. Reton Edgerton at left.

Another longtime band director was Major Anthony V. LaZizza, who served the Academy from 1970 until 1990.

Major LaZizza with the marching band in the 1980s.

CW4 Bruce Patterson has been the band and choir director at the Academy since 1998. He has professional performance experience as a trombonist and has served in the US Marine Corps as an instructor with the United States Marine Corps Band. He now holds the position of Executive Officer of the 80th Division Army Reserve Band in Richmond, Virginia.

The marching band during practice this past week.
Studying in the library

FUMA Cadets Visit the University of Richmond

A cadre of our cadets recently enjoyed a visit to the University of Richmond in nearby Richmond, VA. During the visit, the cadets attended an informational session presented by the University’s admissions department, took a walking tour of the campus, and enjoyed a meal in the University’s dining facility. “College Road Trips”, sponsored by the Academy’s Guidance Department, are scheduled throughout the year to help our students gain a more thorough knowledge of what colleges and universities expect from their incoming freshman and to offer them an inside view of college and university culture.

The next road trip will be taking our cadets to the Virginia Commonwealth University, also in Richmond.

FUMA Parent, Mr. Collin Hite, Speaks on “Careers in the Legal Field”

Through our “Let’s Talk” series, the Guidance Department sponsors guest speakers during the course of the year to speak to our cadets on topics intended to enhance their lives both while at FUMA and beyond their Fork Union experience.

Our most recent seminar, “Careers in the Legal Field”, was led by Mr. Collin Hite, parent of Cadet Dameon Hite. Mr. Hite is a lawyer with the Hirschler-Fleischer Law Firm in Richmond, VA. Mr. Hite’s areas of practice are in insurance coverage and recovery, data privacy and security, commercial disputes, and cyber risk management.

His presentation to our twenty-three cadets in attendance centered on career options in the legal profession and the preparation required for such careers. He stressed the importance of possessing high-level reading and writing skills, along with the importance of being highly motivated and an excellent student. The importance of preparing for the LSAT was also addressed.

Following the presentation, Mr. Hite spent time answering cadets’ questions about his chosen profession. The Academy is very appreciative of Mr. Hite’s willingness to make the trip to Fork Union to speak to our cadets.

The Guidance Department is welcoming of other FUMA parents willing to present information about their career through the “Let’s Talk” series. Please email COL Rob Feathers, the Academy’s Guidance Director, at if you would be interested in speaking to our cadets.

Ping Pong in the Social Center


Members of the Judo Club, under the leadership of staff member Tim Redden (our VP of Development) traveled to DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland this past Saturday to compete in the 2017 Maryland Open Judo Championships. More than 300 competitors from the Mid-Atlantic competed in the tournament. This marked the first time that a team from Fork Union Military Academy had participated in a sanctioned judo tournament. Cadets from the Academy have competed in karate and tae kwon do in the past, but not in judo.

Cadet Zhang placed 4th in the competition, and all cadets fought well, throwing and pinning at least one opponent. Cadet Yuan won one of his matches by ippon or "instant win" with a very high-level throw that he had been practicing for the tournament.

Members of the Judo Club at the 2017 Maryland Open Judo Championships.
In the Estes Dining Hall

Renaissance Event Rewards Zero Demerit Cadets

This past week's Renaissance event offered the Academy an opportunity to reward those cadets who had received zero demerits this year. In addition to drinks and refreshments, cadets enjoyed the chance to select from a wealth of prizes and gift cards as the number of the raffle ticket each had received was called and they came forward to peruse the range of prizes available.

A young cadet struggles to decide which prize he wishes to claim

Congratulations to all of our zero demerit cadets!

Created By
Daniel Thompson


Photos by: COL Al Williamson, Kate Pendergrass, RADM Burhoe, & Charles Thomas

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.