Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Of Soldiers and Scholars: Lieutenant General Edward M. Almond and Dr. Thomas P. Abernethy

In addition to our distinguished graduates and former cadets, a good number of MMI faculty and staff have made their marks in a variety of endeavors. Two are highlighted here, contemporaries on the MMI faculty/staff in the 1920s.

A Virginian and a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Class of 1915, Edward Mallory Almond (1892-1979) taught at MMI before World War I and returned thereafter as Professor of Military Science and Tactics from 1919-1923. A troop commander in World War I, he had been wounded in the Aisne-Marne offensive. During World War II he commanded the 92nd Infantry Division in Italy. Assigned to General Douglas MacArthur’s Tokyo staff in 1946, he was selected as his Chief of Staff in 1949. General Almond led the successful Inchon invasion of Korea in 1950, and commanded the famed X Corps throughout the Korean conflict. He later served as commandant of the Army War College, rising to the rank of lieutenant general. His military decorations from three wars included the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with “V,” and the Purple Heart.

Both his son and son-in-law were killed in World War II. General Almond died in 1979 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The General met his wife while on duty at Marion Military Institute: the former Margaret Crook of Anniston, Alabama, then a student at Judson College.

A personal note: My father served with General Almond in the X Corps in Korea. I was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1950, while my family were stationed there and my Dad was in Korea. I had the honor of meeting General Almond in 1971 in his office in Anniston, Alabama, (in retirement, he served as spokesperson for an insurance company) where he and his wife had retired to be near her family.

Born in Collirene, Alabama, Thomas Perkins Abernethy (1890-1975) was a member of the Marion Military Institute Class of 1908 (he was a cadet sergeant and played on the football team), and a 1912 graduate of the College of Charleston in South Carolina. He also taught at MMI for a number of years (1912-1914, 1919-1921) while completing his graduate work (M.A., 1915; Ph.D., 1922) in history at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

Dr. Abernethy married Ida Robertson, the secretary to the president of Marion Military Institute, in 1917.

Upon completion of his graduate studies at Harvard, Dr. Abernethy embarked upon a distinguished career as a Southern historian and professor which culminated in his serving as chair of the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, one of the premier departments of history in the country. He retired from UVA in 1961.

The Abernethy Collection, the select private library of Dr. Thomas Perkins Abernethy, was donated by Abernethy to Marion Military Institute, circa 1970. The collection consists of some 950 volumes including many first editions and rare books, the oldest being published in 1779. Seven books written by Dr. Abernethy are also part of the collection.

Here is Dr. Abernethy talking with Ms. Woody.