Roy Knight Looks Back
(Roy Knight wrote in May 2018)
In 1971, my mother had pretty much had it with me. I was a little out of control, not doing well in school, and pretty much a pain in the butt. She was able to find a way to send my young tail to St. John’s so I could receive the discipline I desperately needed. From the very moment I got there, that’s what I got. A lot. And it was just what I needed. I thank God daily that my mother loved me so much that she sent me away. I came back a different person. I am so thankful for the faculty, staff, and other cadets of St. John’s, and I will be till the day I take the dirt nap. As SJMS celebrates MORE…
Marianna Nothern Memory of Tweed Ross
I remember after a SJMS dance when my date and his parents took us to the Lamar Hotel for a bite to eat. It was late and we were hungry. We were told that we could order anything we wanted. My date [Tweed Ross 1961] ordered what for him, was his most favorite thing to eat in the world but it was not on the menu. When he said, “REALLY?” They said, “Yes.” So he ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was embarrassed, but when I saw the delight in his eyes when it came out of the kitchen, I understood. (I was still embarrassed and wanted to crawl under the table). I am nearly 81 years old and this is still one of my memories that brings me delight!
— Marianna Nothern
St. John’s was my Home
A memory composed by Walter York in 1995
I arrived at St. John’s in the fall of 1933 and capped off eleven years of military experience in May 1944. In retrospect, St. John’s was my home and sufficed as a family. I can say that the eleven years passed in a big hurry. The school fostered my attitude of RMA (Right Mental Attitude) which took me through my service life in good shape. I wasn’t the best athlete, but I loved to compete in football, basketball, and track. We played softball between the clubs (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines) where I was a good fielder. During those years, one had to complete his first year before becoming an “Old Boy”. I remember running the belt line at the end of the year—made me feel that I was now one of the gang. MORE…
Memories from Connor Dempsey
My time at St. John’s was interesting in a beautiful way. I spent about four and a half years attending the school which was enough time to bring out every emotion possible. Being a youngster, I kept my mouth shut and my grades up, which was all I needed to do to succeed. Towards the end of my freshmen year, I decided I didn’t want to return to school [SJMS] and go home to live a “normal” life, boy was that dumb! I found myself back at St. John’s after five months of public school. I very vividly remember my drive from Golden, Colorado to Salina, Kansas with Mr. Browning. MORE…
Kahler’s Year at SJMS
I spent only one school year at SJMS as an eighth grader from 1978-79. I joined the school in mid-October so many photos of groups and clubs [for the 1979 yearbook] were already taken. I am pictured on pages 66, 67, and 81 though I did participate in lower-school football, track, and band.
It was a growing time for me as were most boys in my age group: (and still are) changing physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. I was exposed to being away from home for the first time and placed in an environment akin to boot camp that lasted approximately eight months. By the time I left the school in 1979, I had undergone many changes and the experiences at SJMS impacted me for years to come. MORE…
Musings of Robin Clary
One thing that remained constant was I was in the band all the years I attended SJMS. Drum section, snare drum mainly, and cadet bandmaster my senior year. SFC Hamner was a big influence on me, seeing him build a cadet band from nothing to marching in festivities, and holidays and being requested to represent SJMS at Mardi Gras. We had a great time! COL Kellogg was my biggest influence. I remember, on a chilly fall Sunday in 1969 I was called down to Headquarters in the basement of Mize Hall and told to report to the commandant’s office immediately. I ran over scared to hell trying to remember what I had done to be called to the commandant’s office. He motioned me in and after reporting to him he looked me up and down and looked directly at me and said, “You think those shoulders can carry Old Boy Shields?” I blurted out, “Yes sir.” He called for the officer of the day to administer my “Old Boy” test. I think it was 1SGT Titus or MSG Woodall who gave me a pen and the test and I sat down in HQ and took the test. A long time ago and the memories still come back to me. — Aaron “Robin” Clary 1975
Wei Feng “My Favorite Place”
It was very hard to pinpoint what exact memory was my favorite [at SJMS] because each moment was so special, whether it be good, bad, or bittersweet. I think naturally, the school building [Jack Vanier Hall] was where we spent the most time of the day… It is my favorite building on campus. It held a different meaning for me as my time at SJ went on. As a “New Boy”, the school building was my safe haven. As long as I did my work, I didn’t have to worry about drill instructors getting in my face or getting in trouble because of someone else. The meaning of the school building changed for me as I advanced through the leadership ladders. From sophomore to Senior year, many core memories were built here. The school building was a place where I socialized and built relationships. My favorite out of them all was when we had a block schedule for standardized testing. The block schedule just ends up being study hall or movie time in another classroom. We were able to do our own things without too much restrictions. In a military school, fewer restrictions are borderline freedom. Junior year came around and Bernhardt and I became really close. We played basketball after school whenever he could and he would take me out to eat. Senior year was a blur. I spent most of my time applying to colleges and did most of that in the school building. I think I had the most surreal feeling upon returning to campus as an alumni and seeing the class photos on the wall. Wei Feng has changed his name to Allen. He resides in San Diego and works as an aircraft mechanic.
Memories From Roger Bigler
It is difficult to reflect on the many events and personal relationships without first expressing the profound and significant impact the school had on my personal development. The faculty of the school, each having a strong parental-like demeanor, instilled in students strong social values, and respect for others, in an atmosphere of small classes and personal interactions. These inspired a lasting character of self-esteem and disciplined self-confidence in students.
One of my significant encounters was with MAJ Russel Guernsey who advised me after I expressed to him my uncertainty, as a first-term junior to accept what would be a Quartermaster position in the rifle team or to strive for a leadership position as an officer in the corps. His advice to me at the time, and lasting for my life was “to accept a certain position would be an easy choice … the hard choice, as in life itself, would be to strive for a leadership position.” As it turned out, I became Cadet Major, as a Junior in the fourth quarter and then again as a Senior in my fourth year at St. John’s. MORE…
George Stelljes’s Memory of Kyle Stuart
St. John’s Military School was a special place that had to be experienced to be understood. It was a place that the cadets loved to hate, hated to love, and then missed dearly once they were gone. “New Boys” often arrived seeing the school as a punishment and resented being at St. John’s. Those who continued to see it as a punishment did not do well, but those who learned to see it as an opportunity to change their lives for the better moved up the rank structure and developed their leadership skills.
I remember when Kyle asked to talk with me and we met in my office. He asked me if he could call his mother. I said yes and he talked to his mom and told her how he was tired of getting into trouble and was going to make some drastic changes in his life. He knew he had to break away from his old ways and old friends back home if he wanted to be successful. He let her know that he would not be coming home during the breaks and had made arrangements to stay with the families of fellow cadets and that he would be enlisting in the U.S. Army National Guard and going to basic training the next summer. Kyle did all of that and then became one of the best battalion commanders in the history of SJMS.
It was an honor and pleasure to work with Kyle and see him develop and mature into the outstanding young man he is today. — George Stelljes 2010
Memories from Dale Browning
The memories I will share in this document are written with a deep sense of gratitude for the role St. John’s has played throughout my life, beginning with my enrolment as a New Boy in 1953 and ending with the school’s closure in 2019. During those years I was a cadet (53-55), company commander (54-55), counselor (55-59), teacher/basketball coach/assistant commandant (59-63), board of trustees (1976-2019), interim president (2007-2010), headmaster (2010-2016) and presently serves as an honorary member of the SJMS museum. As a side note, I served as the nurse for two weeks when the nurse had a family emergency in 1962. Surprisingly, very few cadets needed medical attention during that time??? MORE…
Fly-over at tree top level
One morning I woke up looked out the picture window of the house and was greeted by an [F-11], flying over the formation area at tree top level and heading straight for me. I tried to explain what I had just witnessed, but Dad told me AI Ransom had been given permission to fly over at 1000 feet. While vehemently saying it was just a skosh lower than 1000 feet, AI flew over again. This time, upside down. A third fly-over where he flipped from upside down to right side up, tilting his wing to avoid our television antenna convinced me I was truly living in an amazing place. — Kyle Duckers
Roy Knight Remembers 1SG Titus
Back in 2006, I sent a flag to St. John’s that had been given to me by one of the SJMS legends – 1SG Benjamin C. Titus. Below is the article I wrote for the Skirmisher at that time. I know you all have your own stories about a “Sarge” in your life at St. John’s. Share them. Just telling these stories lets you walk back into those old halls. MORE…
Vail and Griswold Hall
A memory composed by Bill Meidell on October 29, 1979
Last night, as I sat in the stands and listened to the cheers of encouragement and the cries of anguish as the corps was soundly defeated by the opposition, I was taken back to the commencement of this year. I was sitting in nearly the exact place in the grandstand on Perkins Field, one of the speakers mentioned they felt the outer walls of Vail and Griswold Halls refused to fall until they heard taps one more time. I looked again just to see that mighty building again. An eerie feeling swept over me. I guess for the first time, I chose to believe she was really gone. MORE…
S-Club Pledges in the 50s
I remember the S-Club pledges and the skits they did in the mess hall. In the 50s, one thing they did was to drop a raw egg from the roof of Vail Hall. The pledge had to catch it in their mouth, without breaking the egg. The junior school used the classrooms in the gym into the mid-60s. I also remember the pledge cards and bricks. Only S-Club and the pledges could use the word “Pledge.” There was hell to pay if another cadet said pledge. — Jeff Guernsey 1961
I think it was [purchased from] Army surplus that the school ended up with a 75mm large bore howitzer. Blanks were obtained and the cannon was fired each day at evening colors. It was loud and could be heard as far away as the Salina Country Club.
The neighbors began to complain saying the dishes rattled in the cabinets, the loud boom was cracking the foundations of their homes, and breaking windows. Many were just generally complaining about the noise. The neighbors signed a petition that we quit firing the cannon in the evening and presented it to the Salina City Commission. MORE…
William Beaver Story
William Beaver enclosed a rare photo of the 1963 battalion staff, taken only a couple of weeks before graduation. He said, looking at the photograph, “I would boldly say you could call it The Boys from the Golden Era. Of course, I am sure that until recently all class years felt the same, but this photograph was taken when cadet life was becoming more focused, demanding, and purposeful as we became recognizably part of the Army. In so many ways, the battalion led by Jonathan Pratt in 1963 was very different than the Air Group of Francis Tipton Bowers a scant four years before. MORE…
In 1973 I was a sophomore during my first year at St. John’s. Near the end of the school year, I was assigned to Lower School as a platoon sergeant. It is my belief that part of the reason for the reassignment may have been my stature. My 6′-3″ height might be intimidating enough to the junior cadets and may help keep them in line. If anything, it made it easy for me to get a head count during formation. One night, while we slept, the seniors (Senior Pranks) decided to move all the cadet’s shoes from our rooms and line them all up in the hallway in hopes of causing confusion in the morning when reveille was sounded. They succeeded. I was amused, as in all the clamor and confusion I had no trouble finding my giant 11 ½ in. shoes sticking out in the lineup. — Roger Templin 1974
Jeff Broome’s memory of Steve Verity
Steve was an officer “Old Boy” when I was a sophomore and junior. He encouraged me and was an officer I had the utmost respect for. He shared with me around the time I graduated and gave me a book on spirituality. That book became the precursor to finally getting serious about the spiritual side of human existence. I have never forgotten how Steve encouraged me. As many know I often go back to school for graduation and now supporting the historical museum. I have heard from a few cadets a few years younger than me, and they told me how they appreciated my support of them when cadets. Well, Steve is a major player in doing for me what I heard I did for some underclassmen. Thanks, Steve. I have never forgotten you. — Jeff Broome 1971
Two teachers made a difference
Jack Kaine only attended SJMS for one year and said, “It may well have been one of the most important years of my life. However, I did not feel that way at the time.” He said he had two teachers that changed how he felt about the school. “The first was Mrs. Hardy and the second was Dale Browning. I am pleased to tell people that I attended St. John’s. It was a very good experience and a large part of what I have accomplished is because of SJMS.” — Jack Kaine 1961