Search form

GTranslate

President's Blog

No Easy Day

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, September 10, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

"A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack."

On the morning of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was visiting a second-grade classroom in Sarasota, Florida, to promote education. His Chief of Staff, Andy Card, in a later interview with Neil Cavuto recalled, "That day, the president thought he was going into a classroom to talk about his favorite topic...education and reforming our education system. We thought it was going to be an easy day."

In my duties as the president of Fork Union Military Academy, I often say, "There are no easy days at Fork Union." This is true for our cadets, who are challenged each day to be better than they were the day before. It is true for our staff and faculty, who meet and exceed high standards for professionalism and excellence every day in the classroom and on our campus. There are no easy days at Fork Union.

September 11th will never be an easy day for our FUMA family. 

As the President of the United States was listening to eight-year-old children read "The Pet Goat," it was Andrew Card, the past parent of a FUMA cadet, who was called on to be the one to quietly whisper in the president's ear the world-changing news that America was at war.

Houston Eldridge, a longtime member of our staff and faculty, was among the first Green Berets to set foot in Afghanistan. Houston was just the first of many of us in the FUMA family called on to fight this war directly in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Jonathan Grundy, a graduate of FUMA's Class of 1994, was wounded in action in 2007 while leading a combat patrol in the Diyala River valley of Iraq, shot in the face during his third tour of duty in Iraq. Jonathan was just one of our FUMA family who came home bearing the wounds of this war. 

Jonathan Dozier joined our Corps of Cadets twenty-seven years ago making straight A grades in all of his classes as a sophomore. Jonathan was killed in combat in central Iraq in January 2008 while serving in the US Army's 1st Armored Division. Eric Terhune, another of our past cadets, was killed in combat in June 2008 while serving in the 1st Marine Division of the US Marine Corps as a Forward Air Controller on the ground in Afghanistan. Their names are forever carved into the stone wall of our Veterans Memorial, and forever seared into our memories. We honor their sacrifice in this war that began on September 11th.

September 11th will never be an easy day for our FUMA family. 

Their names joined the names of fifty-three other FUMA alumni honored on Fork Union Military Academy's Veterans Memorial wall for having made the ultimate sacrifice in conflicts from World War I through Vietnam and beyond.

You see, there comes a time when every generation will face a call to action, a call to defend freedom and liberty against the evil that opposes it. It is the responsibility of each generation to be prepared and ready to answer when that call comes. That call to action may need to be answered by force of arms in military action, or it may need to be answered by the force of our leadership, our service to our communities, our civic responsibilities, by our words, our prayers, our votes, our force of will, and our resilience. Each generation must be prepared to defend by all means our freedom and liberty against the evil that opposes it.

That is why there are no easy days at Fork Union Military Academy.

We met as a school this week in Wicker Chapel—our Corps of Cadets and our staff—to tell the story of September 11th, to remember, and to honor all of those who lost their lives on that day and in the war that began that day. Our school chaplain, Chaplain Ben Jamison, closed that session with a prayer, and I want, in closing, to share with you those words from Chaplain Jamison.

Lord God,

We gather today to remember. Twenty years ago, we saw the power of evil. A power so profound that two decades later it still feels raw to see these images again. Many of us experienced the power of evil to kill and destroy. To tear down buildings and strip away from us the feelings of safety and security that we had come to take for granted. We watched it live or on our television screens amidst that backdrop of many in the world cheering at our pain.

We saw evil but we do not gather to remember such things.

No, in the darkness of that day, we saw something else emerge. Thousands of first responders woke up on a perfectly ordinary fall day. Unprepared for the unspeakable horror they would face. Yet we saw them run towards danger time and time again. Firefighters and Police Officers ran into burning and shaking buildings over and over. Many surely knew that this was the last act they would commit on this earth and chose to enter again to save one more life.

Men and women aboard United Airlines Flight 93, upon realizing the magnitude of what was happening around them had every opportunity to passively accept their fate. Instead, they chose to fight. Men and women who had not enlisted or commissioned, had not volunteered for dangerous jobs nonetheless chose to give their last full measure of devotion so that others may live.

We gather to remember these things. In the midst of the darkness these shined as a light the darkness could not overcome. Evil expected us to collapse but instead saw a nation emboldened by such heroism unite together. We fell to our knees in prayer and discovered a resilience that many mistakenly thought our country had lost.

We remember these things. We bear testimony to these things and as long as we have breath within our lungs, we must not, we will not stop telling this story.

I pray a blessing over the young man in this space today. As their character is formed within the crucible of Fork Union Military Academy and as they stand in the shadows of the heroes who have come before, we ask that you bless them. Help them to learn the lessons of that day. Create within them faith, courage and integrity so that if they find themselves facing the power of evil in the future, they too will be the light shining in the darkness.

In honor of all of those who lost their lives on 9/11 we enter into a moment of silence.

In Christ’s most holy name we pray, Amen.

 

I pray that God may bless all those whose lives are still touched by the events of September 11th.

And may God continue to bless Fork Union Military Academy as we prepare young men to be a light shining in the darkness.

God loves you and so do I.

 

Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

Servant Leadership

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Tuesday, August 10, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

A new cadet checked in today wearing his casual civies with flip flops.  Since we are starting initial training with a break-in period of boots and military shoes—we stay in running shoes for a few days. The running shoes are on the list to bring, but the new cadet somehow forgot or they got left in the car.  So, there he is standing in the road being told to figure it out by the Training Cadre.  I noticed this happening, walked over, took off my running shoes and gave them to him (perfect fit).  He ran off with the unit and I walked back to my office barefooted. 

I flashed back to 30 years ago in Desert Storm when I saw a Marine Colonel take off his boots and give them to a Private whose boots had holes in the soles and his feet were rubbing on the hot sand. The Private put the boots on (perfect fit) and ran off. The Colonel walked off the other direction barefooted (I guess he had another pair somewhere?). 

Leader’s lead and they set the example. We follow positive examples of leaders and pass it on. 

"Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
—Mark 10:42-45

On the way my home for the day…barefooted and happy.

Semper Fidelis, DLC

 

Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

Happy 4th of July!

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, July 2, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings FUMA family and friends,

Happy Birthday, America!

In 1814, the British attack on Fort McHenry was terrifying. A prisoner on a ship in the Baltimore harbor could see the bombardment of the fort and the large US flag. Through the rockets' red glare…our flag, was still there! Francis Scott Key relayed what he saw to the others below decks. The story was written into a song adopted as our National Anthem in 1931. How did the flag stay aloft with its base shaken so horribly? The bodies of fallen soldiers were placed together to hold up the pole and the flag. A little boy once asked his Grandfather, “Grandpa, in battle, who carries the flag?” The Grandfather rubbed his knee, scared from a wound in war and said, “we all did.” The little boy said, “Grandpa, when it’s my turn, I’ll carry the flag…and I won’t let it fall.”

Happy birthday to the country I love. In God we trust.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” -- Psalm 33:12

Amen. God bless the USA. Happy birthday! 

Go FUMA! 

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

Happy Father’s Day

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Sunday, June 20, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings FUMA family and friends,

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Today is a special day for many as we get to honor our beloved fathers who sacrifice so much for their families on this beautiful Sunday! 

I want to wish everyone a Happy Father’s Day and also want to praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing us to rejoice on such a special day. 

2 Samuel 7:14-15: "I will be a father to him, and he'll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I'll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. But I'll never remove my gracious love from him."

God bless our strong fathers on this day, our Academy and the entire FUMA family and the community of Fork Union! 

Go FUMA! 

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

President's Special Report - June 4, 2021

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, June 4, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

I wanted to provide you with an update on the Academy as we close the 2020-2021 academic school year. 

 

1. Our 122nd Academic Year:

The Corps of Cadets completed a full academic year with in-person classes and scheduled virtual learning throughout a global pandemic. Our cadets have worked hard in the classroom since August, engaged fully in our military structure while away from their families and friends.  In-person visits were very limited with just two major leaves and no weekend passes until the last few weeks of school, all because of the global pandemic. The Academy’s administration, staff, and faculty served our cadets throughout this challenging year, working tirelessly to get these young men to the finish line. This dedication by all helps us remain one of the largest military prep schools/academies in the United States with over 340 young men enrolled during this year.

The Academy participated in every interscholastic sport it has to offer, including postgraduate and high school football, soccer, cross country, postgraduate and high school basketball, swimming and diving, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, golf, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field. Most recently, the outdoor track and field program finished fourth in the State, with two individual State Champions, and placed fourth in the Virginia Prep League as well. Bravo, gentlemen!

On May 21, we celebrated the Class of 2021 during FUMA’s 122nd commencement ceremony. On the hot summer day, I watched the families and friends of 46 seniors clap and cheer as their hardworking cadet finished something that not everyone could do.  This year has been a challenging one for all, but especially for these young men at Fork Union Military Academy. The Class of 2021 received 100-percent college acceptance and were awarded over $4.4 million in merit-based scholarships. The graduating class could not have accomplished this without the leadership of our Academic Dean COL Michael Goad and the entire academic team, which has been exceptional. 

Our Valedictorian of the Class of 2021, Cadet Gregory Hyson, told us in his valedictory address "What I realized [during my time at FUMA] is that this is my chance to develop myself and make myself better than I was before. It began there, I decided to make it so that every day I grew better than I was the day before. I didn’t realize it until this year, but it was Me vs. Me. The only person standing between me and my success was me, and the only person that can overcome my failures was me. This Me vs. Me attitude is probably one of the biggest gifts I have received by being here because I believe it transcends the boundaries of FUMA - it is something that can be used to develop a path in life that you, not anyone else, wants to live." Cadet Hyson finished his senior year in strong fashion with a final GPA of 4.695, just barely edging ahead of Cadet Marcus Billingslea, who was named Salutatorian with a final GPA of 4.672. It was wonderful to welcome the Valedictorian of the Class of 2011, Blake Sundel, back to campus to deliver an inspiring address as our Commencement Speaker.  Blake shared three valuable lessons he learned at Fork Union that have not changed: start with respect, live a life of character, and do what you were trained to do.   

 

2. VAIS Interim Accreditation Visit:

Our VAIS interim accreditation visit took place on April 18-20 and resulted in a clean report with no findings for improvement. The Academy received commendations in the following areas:  Esprit de Corps, Mission, Culture, One Subject Plan, and Our Approach to Challenges.  A special thanks to LTC Steve McCoy and staff and faculty that worked tirelessly to ensure our success.

 

3. Alumni Day:

The Academy welcomed alumni back to the campus on May 22 to celebrate Alumni Day.  The event was a huge success with over 100 participants attending. Mr. Ken Koeller was named 2021 Distinguished Alumnus of the Academy. He will be officially recognized next spring along with Mr. Charlie Daniel, the 2020 recipient of this honor. Dr. Emerson Farley was named Honorary Alumnus of the Academy. We look forward to hosting Alumni Weekend next year and spending more time with our FUMA family.

 

4. Annual Giving Update:

We are on track to finish strong as the fiscal year closes. We have secured the funding for the first phase of Flag Hall, which will give the cadets dedicated music space as part of a two-phased project. Thank you for the support, particularly your generous giving toward the annual fund.   

 

5. Excitement for the Summer: 


Academic Summer Session

The Admissions team continues to seek the best applicants and is excited for the 2021 Summer Session, which begins June 27. As with the Academic Year, FUMA will provide a meaningful, enriching academic experience, which is desperately needed for many young men who did not have the benefit of the FUMA experience this past academic year. If you know a young man who might benefit from the summer session, it is not too late! Contact 1-800-GO2FUMA (1-800-462-3862) for more details.

 

Summer Camps

In addition, the Academy is excited for the return of its three summer camps. 

  • Football, Strength & Speed Camp is set for the June 11-13 weekend and is directed by postgraduate football coach Frank Arritt. While enrollment is already projected to be double that of the prior year, there is still space and time to register. If you would like to learn more about Football, Strength & Speed Camp, click here
  • Father-Son Weekend is set for June 25-27 and is directed by Director of Summer Camps Mark Shuman. Father-Son Weekend is perfect for boys aged 5 through 14 and their father (or other adult male). If you would like to learn more about Father-Son Weekend, click here.
  • Fork Union Basketball School is set for July 11-15 and is directed by postgraduate basketball coach Seth Wilson. This is the oldest camp at the Academy with a strong reputation throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and east coast! Register early - this one sells out! If you would like to learn more about Basketball School, click here

 

6. Excitement for the 2021-2022 Academic Year:

We plan to open the 2021-2022 academic year on August 17, with our Cadet Leadership trainees enrolling as early as August 2. Our academic, athletic, and special events calendars are subject to change so please continue to check forkunion.com/calendar for the latest updates to our School Calendar

 

7. Tell the Story:

Our greatest recruiting resource is a happy FUMA cadet and camper, with proud and talkative parents. Our Trustees, Alumni, Staff/Faculty, Parents Association/Class Leaders, and community members are essential in our recruiting efforts. We appreciate the referrals you have sent our way thus far and hope to continue with the momentum heading into the next academic year. Testimonials in sales/marketing work the best, so tell the positive FUMA story. You may refer new families through the Admissions page on our website at https://www.forkunion.com/admissions/refer-cadet, email admissions@fuma.org, or call 434-842-4205. Simply provide the prospective family’s name and email or phone number and a member of the Admissions team will contact them.

We have a new webpage dedicated to FUMA success stories and invite you to share yours at https://www.forkunion.com/success-stories. Now, more than ever, young men and their families need what FUMA has to offer – we just need to tell the story!

 

We have a strong foundation and one that will not be washed away in sinking sand. We stand on the solid rock.  God has blessed FUMA. Thank you for all you do for our cadets and the Academy. 

Go FUMA!
 

 

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

Memorial Day 2021

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Monday, May 31, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Memorial Day is for remembering those who died in service to our great nation. Thank God for those who gave their lives. We remember. In God we trust. Be safe this weekend. Freedom isn’t free. God bless the USA. 

 

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

2 Days to Go!

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings Cadets, Parents, Board, Alumni Board, Alumni and Friends,

Wow, what a year it has been! We have had school on campus and in-person with postgraduates and seniors at a 100-percent college acceptance rate with a few joining the military, ROTC, service academies and prestigious apprenticeship programs. All of our cadets are prepared for what comes next in their futures. 

We are so proud of each of them for their wisdom, patience and faith through this trying year.  Through a global pandemic, each of these boys conquered this year with no hesitation and formed a brotherhood that will never be broken. We see these boys as our sons and they will always be greeted with a warm welcome here for years to come! 

In addition to these strong men, congratulations to our faculty, staff, parents and supporters who turned this year, which was a challenging one for all, into an opportunity. We love our Academy, these boys and know that God’s plans for them and us are not for disaster, but for success. Therefore, lean into the future, and press on. To God be the glory. 

Go FUMA! 

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

14 Days to Go!

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, May 7, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings, FUMA Cadets, Staff, Faculty and Parents! 

We are two weeks away until the Class of 2021 graduates. We are busy trying to celebrate these amazing cadets in every opportunity, ranging from senior days on the athletic fields, parades, special weekend events like international festivals and so much more! 

 

I am so excited for this weekend. We are hosting our annual International Festival on Saturday, prior to celebrating our amazing mothers ON CAMPUS for the 2021 Mother’s Day Parade. Let me say that again, ON CAMPUS! This will be the first official event where we will be able to host families on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will give these resilient cadets somewhat of a “back to normal” feel as they get to spend time with their mothers on such a special day. 

 

I want to take the time and thank every strong, beautiful mother who trusted us with their amazing son this year in such a difficult time. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Please enjoy your time on Sunday with your FUMA cadet!

 

3 John 1:4

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Go FUMA!

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

21 Days to Go!

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, April 30, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings, FUMA Cadets, Staff, Faculty and Parents! 

Wow, what a week it has been! My staff and I have had the pleasure of hosting the Board of Trustees this week. We are proud of this prestigious Academy and have reflected on our goals and look to continue to build our future with the guidance of our Board. To top this week off, Fork Union Military Academy recorded its 13thfirst round NFL Draft pick last night. Christian Darrisaw, an alumnus from the PG Class of 2017, was the 23rdoverall pick to the Minnesota Vikings. What a way to end the month of April. Go Vikings!

 

 

As we head into our final month of the 2020-21 school year, be thankful of where you come from and what God has in store for your future. Finish this year strong!

 

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Go FUMA!

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

28 Days to Go!

News Type:  President's Blog Date:  Friday, April 23, 2021 Byline:  Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)

 

Greetings, FUMA Cadets, Staff, Faculty and Parents! 

Parade season is here, which means we have just four weekends left until our strong, resilient seniors graduate. This afternoon will be very special as we get to honor our faculty and staff who have served our amazing country in the armed forces for the Military Appreciation Day Parade. Unfortunately, the parade will be closed to the public, but make sure you tune into the live stream on our YouTube Channel!

 

YouTube Link

 

 

 

I am so proud of our young men. Not only are they close to completing a full school year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have also competed in every sport we provide and have trained all year for these parades. Keep fighting the good fight, young men! The finish line is almost here.

 

1 Timothy 6:12:

 

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

 

Go FUMA!

Best regards,
Colonel David L. Coggins, USMC (Ret.)
President
Fork Union Military Academy

 


 

Subscribe to RSS - President's Blog