Virginia Tech Magazine
Corps of Cadets
Winter 2009
The bonds of brotherhood
by Rock Roszak '71
The Brotherhood pylon symbolizes one of the eight core values that define the corps experience. Throughout my career, I had the joy of a chance meeting with another cadet alumnus. Our shared experience means we have a common basis for personal values, and our exchanges invariably include the questions, "What was your class year?" and "What unit were you in?" Especially enjoyable is running into someone with whom you "ratted" or an upperclassman who mentored you or whom you looked up to during your cadet years.
VTCC alumni deployed
VTCC alumni deployed
VTCC alumni deployed
VTCC alumni deployed
VTCC alumni deployed

I write this the day after returning from a nine-hour auto trip to attend the wedding of the daughter of my mentor, Steve Pavlik (accounting '69; M.S. accounting '71). Steve looked out for me as I tried to find my way in college, he introduced me to the woman who has been my wife for 37 years, and he's the godfather to my youngest daughter. Our visit with his family and the family of his younger brother, Bob Pavlik (civil engineering '73, M.Eng. civil engineering '81)--who began his cadet days in S Squadron, the unit his brother commanded during my sophomore year--felt like a family reunion.

Before I left for the trip, I sent an e-mail to a listserv of corps alumni whom I keep updated on the cadet program, asking for quotes for this article. I was overwhelmed by the response. There were enough responses to have filled pages of this issue, and each illustrated what I have come to know as the bond of brotherhood.

I heard from Chris Ireland (political science '91), an Air Force MC-130 pilot stationed in Iraq, who had just met with Maj. Joe Lock (civil engineering '92), who is in the Army Special Forces, and Cmdr. Mike Steffen (history '92), a Navy helicopter pilot. Ireland said that the corps provides a truly joint commissioning experience available at only a few places around the nation and that he is the better for having been a part of it.

Air Force Capt. Kelley Jessee (aerospace engineering '02) wrote to tell me how she flew to Hawaii to spend time with her best friend from college, Army Capt. Heather McGrath (management '02), who was on R&R after her first tour in Iraq. After visiting the USS Arizona, Jessee says that when they looked back at the memorial and saw the American flag waving in the wind, they heard the echo of heroes of the past asking them to carry the torch forward.

Mike Ogus (history '83), a civilian working in the Washington, D.C., area, wrote of a business meeting he had with several individuals from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., that turned out to be more of a reunion than a meeting. One of the group was Lt. Col. Gary Obermeyer (secondary education mathematics '86), who was a freshman during Ogus's senior year. Obermeyer entertained the other conferees with stories so fresh and real that they made Ogus remember a time and place he had not thought of for years and recall moments that helped shape the man he is today.

Rob Goodson (German '93) and Steve Schroeder (chemistry '93) each wrote me independently. They were roommates for two years and have been great friends since their first day in the corps in 1989. Their families have remained close over the years, and they still call each other whenever the Tech football team scores.

I appreciate the time that all of the respondents took to write me, and I'm even more appreciative of the bond that I share with every one of them.

Perhaps the most touching response I received was not from an alum, but from Karolyn Smith, who was Lt. Tim Price's (forestry '01) driver on the day he was killed by a sniper in Baghdad. She wrote, "If I could do anything over again in my life, I would go to Virginia Tech and be in the corps of cadets because after serving with Lt. Tim Price and seeing the caliber of soldier he was, I know the wisdom I received from him in battle could only come from such an amazing institution. He was a special breed of soldier, taught by the best, and always led from the front. He imparted Virginia Tech values, and he took care of his troops like they were all his brothers and sisters, and I am all the better for it."

Ut Prosim.

Col. Rock Roszak '71, USAF (Ret.) is the alumni director for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets HOKIE HEROES video highlights

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets would like to thank ISP Sports and the University Bookstore for their continued support and sponsorship of the Hokie Hero program, which honors Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni who are currently deployed. Recipients of this honor are featured during the radio broadcast of Virginia Tech football games, on the corps website, on the corps alumni website, and in the Corps Review magazine.

During the recently completed--and successful--Virginia Tech football season, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets again partnered with ISP Sports and the University Bookstore to highlight alumni of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets deployed to the Persian Gulf area in service to our country. During each game's radio broadcast, Bill Roth and Mike Burnop recognized one of our Hokie Heroes.

A video highlighting each of these broadcasts with pictures of each of our heroes can be found on the corps alumni website or on the Virginia Tech YouTube site.

For more information, contact Capt. Carrie Cox at 540/231-1718.

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