Virginia Military Institute - Military Service

Military Service

VMI has graduated an Army Chief of Staff, an Air Force Chief of Staff and two Marine Corps Commandants making it the only college in the United States (including the federal service academies) to have graduated service chiefs of three of the four primary armed services. As of 2007, VMI had graduated over 260 general officers and flag officers; among its most distinguished military alumni are the first five-star General of the Army, George Marshall; seven recipients of the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government, the Medal of Honor; and more than 80 recipients of the second highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross. VMI offers ROTC programs for four US military branches (Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force). While four years of ROTC is a requirement for all cadets, accepting a commission in the armed forces is optional. The VMI Board of Visitors has set a goal of having 70 percent of VMI cadets take a commission by 2015. The VMI class of 2008 achieved a 52.8 percent commissioning rate. Of the total of 127 cadets who commissioned in 2008, 63 commissioned in the Army, 11 commissioned in the Navy, 26 commissioned in the Marine Corps, and 27 commissioned in the Air Force.

The table below lists all United States generals (four-star) who graduated from VMI (The table does not include four-star alumni of the Institute who attended VMI but graduated elsewhere, such as Generals Patton and Walker. Nor does the table include the many graduates of VMI who attained the rank of four-star general in military service to foreign nations such as Thailand, China, and Taiwan):

Name VMI class Branch &
date of rank
George Marshall 1901 Army, 1 September 1939
  • First General of the Army (five stars), 10th four-star general in US Army history & 1st non-USMA four-star general
  • Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1939–45
  • Secretary of State, 1947–49; Secretary of Defense, 1950–51;
  • Special Representative of President to China, 1945–47
  • President of the American Red Cross, 1949–50
  • Nobel Peace Prize, 1953; Congressional Gold Medal, 1946
Thomas T. Handy 1916 Army, 13 March 1945
  • 22nd four-star general in US Army history
  • Deputy Chief of Staff, US Army, 1944–47
  • Commanding General, Fourth Army, 1947–49
  • Commander-in-Chief, European Command (1949–52) & USAREUR/Commander, CENTAG (1952)
  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief, EUCOM 1952–54
Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. 1917 USMC, 1 January 1952
  • 3rd four-star general in USMC history
  • Commandant, US Marine Corps, 1952–55
  • Chairman, Inter-American Defense Board, 1956–59
Leonard T. Gerow 1911 Army, 19 July 1954
  • Commanding General V Corps 1943–45
  • Commanding General US 15th Army, 1945–46.
Randolph M. Pate 1921 USMC, 1 January 1956
  • 4th four-star general in USMC history
  • Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1956–59
Clark L. Ruffner 1924 Army, 1 March 1960
  • 51st four-star General in US Army history
  • US Military Representative, NATO Military Committee, 1960–62
David M. Maddox 1960 Army, 9 July 1992
  • 149th four-star general in US Army history
  • Commander-in-Chief, USAREUR/Commander, CENTAG (1992–93) & USAREUR (1993–94)
J. H. Binford Peay III 1962 Army, 26 March 1993
  • 150th four-star general in Army history
  • Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, 1993–94
  • Commander-in-Chief, Central Command, 1994–97
  • Superintendent, VMI, 2003–present
John P. Jumper 1966 Air Force of the United States, 17 November 1997
  • 152nd four-star general in US Air Force history
  • Commander in Chief, USAFE/Commander, AAFCE, 1997–2000
  • Commander, Air Combat Command, 2000–01
  • Chief of Staff, US Air Force, 2001–05

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