The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will hold the third Remote Gunfighter Panel on Thursday, March 18 as part of the corps' leadership development course. These videoconferences are a spinoff of the Gunfighter Panels the corps has been sponsoring on campus for the past 12 semesters.
In the traditional Gunfighter Panel each semester, three or four alumni are welcomed back to campus as one of the four programs in the Leaders in Action lecture series hosted each term by the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ Rice Center for Leader Development. The officers share their combat deployment experiences, their lessons learned, and leadership challenges, while also sharing how their Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets experience prepared them for life after college.
For the first time, utilizing the new Global Technology Center in the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention in Norris Hall, cadets are getting to hear from alumni that are currently serving in a combat zone, Iraq.
The on-campus Gunfighter Panel series started shortly after the war in Iraq began as a way to bring the realities of future military service back to cadets via young graduates who had been cadets just years, and sometimes months, before. Tim Price, a 2001 graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, was a panel member on the very first Gunfighter Panel. He was killed in action just four months after visiting campus. The impact of this panel each semester continues to be profound and allows the corps to not only teach our future leaders, but to honor those who are already serving the nation in harm’s way.
Now, through the efforts of a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumna Brig. Gen. Michele Compton, United States Army, who earned a degree in geography from the College of Natural Resources in 1983, these lessons are being brought to life real time from Baghdad. Compton is currently serving in Iraq as deputy director; J5; Plans, Strategy, and Assessments for United States Forces – Iraq. She is the senior female officer serving in Iraq. Compton is the first female graduate of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets to attain General or Flag Officer rank. In addition, she is also the parent of current corps of cadets member Cadet Leigh Compton of Kailua, Hawaii, a sophomore majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and pursuing a minor in leadership studies. She is an Emerging Leader Scholarship and an Army ROTC scholarship recipient.
The March panel is the third of the series, one was held in January and the second in February, and each time 30 cadets get the opportunity to participate live. Since Virginia Tech Video/Broadcast Services (VBS), who makes the technical connection to Iraq a reality, can create a video of the event, all cadets are able to then view the panel on the university’s Scholar website used for the corps leadership course. The alumni are participating live from Camp Victory in Baghdad. However, for the second panel in February, one alumnus participated from Contingency Operating Base Adder in addition to the three at Camp Victory.
The January panel included the following Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni:
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumna Maj. Heather Clevenger, United States Army, who earned a degree in hospitality and tourism management from the former College of Human Resources and Education (today’s hospitality and tourism management major is in the Pamplin College of Business) and a concentration in leadership studies in 1999;
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumnus 1st Lt. Amir Abu-Akeel, United States Army, who earned a degree in aerospace engineering from the College of Engineering and a minor in leadership studies in 2006; and
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadet alumnus 1st Lt. Brian Orlino, United States Army, who earned a degree in management from the Pamplin College of Business and a minor in leadership studies in 2007.
The February panel included the following Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumni:
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumnus Maj. Patrick Hogeboom, United States Army, who received a degree in civil engineering from the College of Engineering in 1994;
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumna Capt. Angela Jacobson, United States Air Force, who earned a degree in mathematics from the College of Science and a minor in leadership studies in 2000; and
- Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets alumnus Capt. George Mallory, United States Army who earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences in 2005.