leave The Citadel for military service
When The Citadel honored alumni who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, a Hotel Company cadet was packing his bags. In the last parade before he departed, Thomas Rachelski led Hotel Company as its honorary commander. Two days later, the Clifton, N.J. senior withdrew to join his activated National Guard unit.
In November, Rachelski became the sixth cadet currently serving with reserve or guard units.
With 55 cadets in a deployable status, members of the Corps are helping shoulder the burden of the war on terrorism. Five cadets were unable to return this fall because of military obligations. And of all whose service has interrupted their education, none has served any longer than Florence, S.C. native Kelly Gee.
Gee arrived at The Citadel two years ago as a member of the Class of 2005, enthusiastically embracing the fourth-class system. Three weeks into the term, September 11th changed America and thrust reservists and National Guard members into the forefront of our defense. That December, Kelly's Army National Guard unit was activated.
The Delta Company cadet finished his first semester with the help of faculty who arranged for him to take his exams early. He then temporarily put aside his education to go with the 133rd Military Police Company and spent most of the next year at Fort Stewart, Ga.
In January of 2003, Kelly returned to The Citadel as a second-semester knob. Three weeks later, his unit was activated again, this time to serve overseas. He spent most of this year in Iraq, serving as a gunner.
Fortunately for Gee, service has been a family affair. His father, Preston Gee, Jr., was the cadet's first sergeant. His older brother, Preston (Lath) Gee IV, is a first lieutenant in the Army, a member of the Class of 2001, and serving in Iraq with the 63rd Signal Battalion.
The best news for Vicky Gee, who has spent much of the past year waiting by the phone and watching the news, was that her husband and youngest son made it home in time for Christmas. The 133rd returned to the States on December 12 and is now finishing up at Fort Jackson in Columbia. Lath hopes to be back by March when he will get married in Summerall Chapel.
Meanwhile Kelly Gee plans to return to The Citadel in January to restart his delayed education.
There's a popular saying that freedom isn't free. Like many in The Citadel family, it's a phrase that the Gees understand very well.
See complete list of alumni who have served or are currently serving in the war on terrorism.