We at VMI have always had a rivalry with the boys down the road at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Virginia Tech having been founded by a VMI Alumnus, afterall. While Tech had nationally ranked football teams, we at the true and proper military school took pride in the fact (Read: Griped, bitched, moaned, and boasted) that we had it tougher than those sissies in Blacksburg. The rivalry was only exacerbated by the many years Turkey Bowls which pitted the vaunted Hokies against those most valiant beloved sons of the Commonwealth. To this day, we gentlemen (and now ladies) of Lexington do happily maintain that we will rise to any challenge that the Hokies would provide.
But no matter how heated our rivalry has become over the years, it has always been friendly. Virginia Tech has always proven a refuge for those prisoners of the Mother I, and we Keydets have always been amicable and magnanimous, in return. No other day in Virginia history has better illustrated the great bond and friendship between the two Corps of Cadets than that black day in April when a very troubled man decided to exorcise the demons in his head the only way he knew how. When news of the massacre reached us in Lexington, many were shell shocked and calls rang from the stoop for each Cadet to take pick up his rifle and trek to Blacksburg because our comrades in arms needed reinforcements.
In the aftermath, each Keydet did what he or she could do; offering prayers, support to friends caught too close to the action, and even sending envoys Southward to pass along our sincerest sympathies and condolences. It was a day when, truly, the sons and daughters of Virginia (even those of us from out of state) banded together as one. We provided an honor guard for the funeral of one of the Blacksburg Corps’ own, Cadet Matthew Joseph LaPorte.
As law enforcement agencies slowly sift through the debris of that wretched day, they have uncovered stories and evidence of acts of heroism and bravery. Such is now the case for Cadet LaPorte. Staring death itself in the face, Cadet LaPorte was called to action. Confronted with withering gunfire and no chance of escape, Cadet LaPorte leapt from his seat and attempted to subdue the gunman. Amidst his efforts, Cadet LaPorte was gunned down, giving his life in service to his fellow Hokies. Cadet LaPorte’s actions on that day were in the finest traditions of the VPI Corps of Cadets and in keeping with the storied actions of other beloved Sons of Virginia. May he rest in peace.
Hat tip to CDR Salamander.