The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships

In two months, my son will graduate from the Citadel and also be commissioned as a 2LT in the Army. I find myself filled with a jumble of emotions. While he has been the one to endure the many challenges of the 4th Class System and succeed, I feel like I’ve gone through my own type of training.

Long time friends reunite, L-R Doug Christ, Michelle “Chelle” Leary, named for Michelle “Chelle” Chaudoin, Gwen Lynch Christ, Dorie Griggs.

After a recent conversation with a Brigadier General, I realize my training as an Army mom began when my son was in JROTC in high school. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with the General on the transport train at the Atlanta airport. I made a joke of how I have found ways to learn about the Army training, much to the chagrin of my son. The General laughed and said HIS mother still has her ways to find out things about him.

I know I’m not alone in wanting to learn about the process to better understand and support my son. My years as a volunteer in the Citadel Family Association and with the Atlanta Citadel Club’s parent group has proven that you should never underestimate the abilities of a mother to support their children. I made some wonderful friends the past several years. As I wrote about in a previous post, The Citadel Ya-Ya’s continue to be a source of friendship and support even after many of the group now have graduates of The Citadel.

There are so many neat friendships that I can’t list them all. A couple of people really do stand out though because I’ve been reunited with long time friends through our cadets.

Last year some time in the early fall, I received an email asking if I am the same Dorie Griggs that went to Sparta High School in Sparta, NJ. I am. The note came from a long time friend Gwen Lynch Christ.  It turns out her oldest son was a knob (first year cadet) last year. She saw my name of some Citadel Family Association correspondence and had to reach out.

Friends Gwen, Chelle and Dorie from 1979. Five months later, May 4, 1980, Chelle Chaudoin died in an airplane collision.

The last time I remember seeing Gwen was in December of 1979.  We were at our friend Chelle Chaudoin’s house. I’ve had a photo of us from that night on my desk for almost 30 years. Our friend Chelle died 5 months after the photo was taken in an airplane collision while she was at Arizona State. Chelle’s mother put the photo in a collage for me with a few other photos.

As life happens, I was in school in Virginia and rarely went back to NJ to visit. Gwen stayed in the north to finish school, work, marry, and raise her family. Here we are 30+ years later in regular contact because of our children. Gwen’s son Andrew is also in the Army ROTC at The Citadel, so we are both future Army moms too.

Years ago, I met a great friend when by the luck of the draw she was assigned to my younger son as his occupational therapist. Marie McKenzie Dopson worked with Taylor for a few years. We developed a friendship, but after Taylor no longer needed therapy on a regular basis, we saw each other less often.

Bravo Company Moms, Dorie Griggs and Marie McKenzie Dopson.

Well this past summer, I found out we’d be in touch regularly again when Marie’s son’s name appeared on the list of incoming knobs at The Citadel. Marie attended the orientation I hosted in June for incoming knobs. We marveled how life has a way of bringing friends together, but we had no idea what would happen in just a few months.

Marie’s son was assigned to the same company as my son. On Matriculation Day, the day first year cadets report, I told my son he knew the mother of one of the knobs. (Nelson would attend the therapy sessions with his younger brother years ago.) Apparently my little heads up to Nelson didn’t register. About a month later during a brief phone call, Nelson told me he selected his new knob mentee.  His name is Dopson, he said.  He is Marie’s son! The mentoring relationship solidifies friendships between cadets. Our sons will be friends for life, therefore connecting us as well.

The ties between the cadets at The Citadel are very strong. No one else besides the graduates who wear the ring can truly understand the bond that is formed from that shared experience.

The parents of the cadets may understand that bond better than anyone.

Previous posts by Dorie Griggs:

The Making of a Military Mom

Mom Readies for Son’s Military College

The Citadel: Year One a No Fly Zone for Hovering Parents

How The Citadel “Ya-Yas” Came to Be

Learning Leadership and Ethics at The Citadel

The Citadel Trained Me as Well as My Son

The Citadel: BVA’s and  Summerall Guards

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Care Packages for Cadets: The Citadel Heroes Project

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12 Responses

  1. […] Read more: The Citadel Bond Renews Parents' Long Time Friendships « Off The Base […]

  2. I am impressed… My son, David is sophomore in F-troop and also, he is in Army ROTC. I appreciate you sharing lots of Citadel information. ^^

  3. So are you going by Doire now? Or sticking with Dorie? 🙂 Not gonna tell you where! 🙂 Another nice read, thanks Dorie/Doire. 🙂

  4. […] The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships […]

  5. […] The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships […]

  6. […] The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships […]

  7. […] The Citadel Bond Renews Parents’ Long Time Friendships […]

  8. It was neat to meet not only another Citadel Mom… But One from Sparta!!! Sorry I was in a rush in the bookstore. Thank you for your blog and your words as we embark on this new journey!
    Sharon Walsh
    Mom of knob in golf company

  9. […] an email asking if I was the same Dorie Griggs who went to Sparta High school. The note was from Gwen, a friend with whom I spent many a weekend with in high school. Who would have guessed that thirty […]

  10. […] outside Summerall Chapel I was thrilled to see my long time friend, Gwen and her extended family. I wrote about Gwen a while back. We went to the same high school in New Jersey and ran around with the same friend […]

  11. […] in the plane that went down into a lake that day. I’ve written about Chelle Chaudoin and a neat reunion at The Citadel a few years […]

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