F Troop: And Other Citadel Stories

F Troop: And Other Citadel Stories

F Troop: And Other Citadel Stories

F Troop: And Other Citadel Stories


From its founding in 1842 the Citadel has been steeped in tradition. There have been changes through the years, but the basics of the military code and the plebe system have remained constant. Citadel graduate Tom Worley has crafted this collection of short stories about life at the South Carolina military academy during the 1960s. While the stories are fictional, they are inspired in part by his days as a student on the college campus. With humor and dramatic clarity, Worley reveals the harshness of the plebe system, how success is achieved through perseverance, and the character-building benefits of a Citadel education.

These seventeen stories are told from the perspective of two main characters--cadets Pete Creger and Sammy Graham--who are members of F Company. By turns surprising and entertaining, the collected stories range from the emotional and physical trials of being a knob in the plebe system, the brutality of hazing, and the fear and fun of company pranks, to the friendship and camaraderie the system fosters and the tremendous pride shared by those who wear the coveted Citadel ring.

Best known for its Corps of Cadets, the Citadel attracts students who desire a college education within a classical military system in which leadership and character training are essential parts of the overall experience. Any romanticized notion of military bravado is quickly shattered the moment students set foot on campus and their parents drive away. Many cadets are left wondering, "What have I signed up for?" Worley's stories shed light on the pain and the pride, explaining why, he says, "most cadets at the Citadel hated the place while they were there and loved everything about it once they'd graduated. They were bonded together for life. Perhaps that's the greatest thing the Citadel did for them."


The Guidon is a small booklet, published annually by the Citadel, designed to provide information about the school to incoming freshmen. the goal of the fourth class system, also known as the plebe system, is to turn Citadel freshmen into Citadel men. the term plebe is from the Latin word plebis, meaning common people. There is nothing common about a Citadel freshman, for he is the lowest form of life on the campus. The Guidon defines plebe as a first year cadet, a fourthclassman, a freshman. Also a doowillie, knob, smack, or squat. the term by which freshmen at the Citadel are most often known is knob. It is thought that the term originated from the fact that the freshman haircut, a shaved head maintained throughout the first year, closely resembles a doorknob.

Tuesday, September 8, 1964, the day after Labor Day. Midmorning. Pete Creger stood outside the front sallyport of Number Two barracks, Padgett-Thomas barracks, on the Citadel campus, located on the banks of the Ashley River in downtown Charleston, with his parents. On the sidewalks nearby other plebes and their families milled about, saying their final goodbyes before entering the barracks to begin the knob year. Mothers kissed and hugged their sons, dabbing the moisture from their eyes with fingers or handkerchiefs. Fathers were more restrained, making do with a pat on the shoulder, a firm handshake, or a look in the eyes that said I know you’re man enough for the Citadel. Make me proud. Don’t come crying to me that it’s too rough and you want to come home.

It was the same with Pete’s family. Pete felt weird shaking his dad’s hand. He felt far more comfortable embracing his mom. He stole a furtive . . .

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