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Col. Ramsby: Southern Prep Academy's 12th President

Long time readers will recall past columns on Lyman Ward Military Academy [LWMA] now donning the more apropos Southern Preparatory Academy [SPA] nomenclature. After reader responses on Robert’s troubled presidency at AU, it is delightful to write this month’s column on a Presidency which promises a much brighter future with a proven track record of having the righteous Spirit to lead Southern Prep in the way of conditioning and graduating fine young gentlemen toward the sound mind, body and Spirit result SPA champions… gentlemen of this ‘rare mettle’ are in very short supply.

Since 1898, 11 have presided over this esteemed Academy - i.e., an average duration of over 11 years. Only 11 Academies of this sort remain in our coalition of States… shrinking toward zero last I checked. This leadership role over so many young souls is a daunting task of great responsibility. Colonel Corey M. Ramsby is undoubtedly up to the task as provided in SPA’s April 22, 2024 announcement:

Ramsby will come to SPA in August with an accomplished 30 years of experience and leadership duties. He’ll retire as Maxwell Air Force Base’s Reserve Officer Training Corps Commander with an impressive record of recruiting, educating, and developing future leaders. Emphasizing a mission-oriented approach and commitment to academic excellence soundly buttressed by practical leadership experiences, Col. Ramsby is ‘well prepped’ to pilot SPA to new and improved record altitudes.

Col. Ramsby’s stellar journey lifted off as a distinguished Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Program graduate at Purdue University in 1994. In various operational and staff roles, among the more notable include senior leadership positions at Space Force and Cyber Command - e.g., 55th Communications Group at Offutt AFB, the 375th Communications Squadron at Scott AFB, and the 54th Combat Communications Squadron at Robins AFB, among others.

Readers wanting more specifics, Ramsby served in crucial deployments supporting operations Desert Fox, Southern Watch, and Enduring Freedom. Awards and decorations recognizing his noble service include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal… enumerating a few. Reportedly, “Col. Ramsby’s leadership has left an indelible mark on every organization he has served, from the Headquarters of the United States Space Force to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Indeed reassuring someone of Col. Ramsby’s accomplishments, intellect and integrity taking the helm at SPA.

To truly appreciate what a blessed endeavour SPA is for students, it is something wonderful to observe… the classrooms, the pomp and circumstance of parades and to just watch and listen in the mess hall. One of SPA’s Class of 2024 most decorated cadets is Sean Turner, headed to West Point. I had the complete pleasure to sup with this fine young gentleman at Col. Sweeney’s (incoming Chair of the SPA Board of Trustees) banquet table on Patriot’s Day. Cadet Turner is as good as any of my top honours students at AU. A short clip of Cadet Turner’s Valedictorian Address may be found at:

Consider this quote from a Southern Prep Alum’s parent, who was very active in the president’s search on the SPA Board of Trustees:

“As a parent of a 2019 graduate, I had the pleasure of watching Southern Prep positively develop my son’s work ethic, attitude, and grades, allowing him to graduate as a strong leader. I serve on the Board of Trustees because I know how valuable this school is to our boys, our families, and our society. We are fortunate to have such a military school in Alabama, which is one of only 11 such schools in the nation. The structure and discipline is what our boys need to mold them into strong men.

I am extremely excited about the new President, Colonel Ramsby. With his expertise & leadership, I am confident SPA will position itself to adapt to new opportunities while remaining true its core values.”

Wish I observed as much commitment, effort and sound vetting in University president searches as I witnessed in SPA’s thorough search to hire Col. Ramsby.

Decades ago, what shepherded me to Lyman Ward (now Southern Prep) was the Academy’s accomplished, loyal cadre of alumni, who… when called into service, are impressive. I pray Col. Ramsby seeks out their advice and support. The first Alums to earn my attention were outstanding Lyman Ward grads performing as exceptional students in my AU econ classes. SPA preps well for a military career and many other paths in life. As long as I’m able, I’ll guest lecture at SPA whenever given each blessed (re)invite. One of the more impressive Alum quotes obtained for this column is as follows:

“Many folks in my family attended this Institution. Some graduated… some did not. At least one started there soon after it opened. His family played a part helping Dr. Lyman Ward build the school from the first organizational meetings. He and his parents are buried at Camp Hill Cemetery. I have what is left of his diploma from ‘The Southern.’

This school has gone from ploughshares to swords and now both ploughshares and swords. Our family has possession of a class ring from The Southern Industrial Institute and one from Lyman Ward Military Academy. I hope one day we’ll have at least one from Southern Preparatory Academy, now the Official Military Academy of Alabama.

As a graduate of this institution, my life transformational moment took place when a Regular Army Major, The Senior Army Instructor, presented me with “The New Cadet of The Quarter” award. He asked which college I was going to after graduating from Lyman Ward? After some hesitation, I replied “I do not know sir!” He then moved onto the next cadet in the awards formation. I stood there in shock. No member of my immediate family even graduated from High Scool, much less College. I’d never been asked that question in my life.

After making the best friends in my life and being mentored by the most amazing group of people outside of my family, I went to a military college and graduated four years later. Many of my LWMA brothers graduated from the same military college that the Major and I graduated from.

I crossed paths with my LWMA brothers all over the world. Mostly military men. Even the Major that gave me the award and “The Question” back at LWMA. The Major was a Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry Battalion Commander when I served in the same Infantry Division with him in Germany. We had meetings with other LWMA men there as well.

This theme repeats itself to this very day. This week alone I’ve spoken on the phone with at least eight of my brothers. We’re not all the same and didn’t spend our productive years in the same military and civilian professions but have a bond and code which remains unbroken.

The best thing that I ever did! Many fellow Alumni are ready to be mustered into service to support Col. Ramsby as the 11th President of our cherished Academy.”

In full disclosure, I’m a humble supporter of SoPrep, from buying bricks in remembrance of alums, to guest lecturing students and most importantly a monthly donor of this jewel in Camp Hill, Alabama. Please welcome and say a prayer for Col. Ramsby and also join me in of support SPA. Col. Ramsby’s leadership will inspire and empower students. My 30 years in academia were more successful because of my real world leadership skills/experience and understanding from my many years at Ford Motor Company; an important, integral part of the job is inspiration as well as a good example in mind, body and Spirit.

It is time to give up childish things (idolizing sports, fancy trips, homes and other materialistic detritus) and engage in endeavours which will matter as the relentless evil envelops us. Ask your legislator to make student savings accounts available for all military school students in Alabama ROTC. Give Alabama families with students in any Junior/High school military academy in our State first preference for student savings account funds to support rising youth who may soon be called upon to defend our State. Even more simple, but nonetheless important, those who know good children being raised to live up to the sort of conditioning and preparation SPA champions, inform them of this jewel in East Central Alabama. “Free range children” as my mentor calls them are great candidates. Home schoolers with children finishing elementary school grades may find SPA a sound transition into junior/high school education worthy of consideration.

Typing this on Memorial Day, fitting to close recalling SPA graduates wounded and who sacrificed their lives in combat. Total combat deaths currently exceed 658,000 souls and increasing since our first war for independence. Probable a few of these fine young men I’ve met and guest lectured at SPA will suffer wounds and similar sacrifice in their military service. To again reiterate from past columns - I pray we live up to such great suffering and sacrifice. If unable to support our cadets and the mission of SPA, please make the commitment to care enough for those serving you to impede such honourable men from being abused and squandered by those sending them in harm’s way. Executives, legislators and judges these past several score have little to no respect or understanding of the Constitution which authorizes engaging our military… even something as simple as the commitment to declare war and define the objective for deploying our nation’s finest. God is watching, hard to imagine favorably.

Postscript: Theo Katechis passing brought a flood of kind phone calls and messages evoking many blessed memories. As the Greeks say, Eonia Imnemi - i.e., may Theo’s memory be eternal through Christ he held so dear. Buried on Holy Thursday in Montgomery - it is the most compelling service of the year to me and Theo was in my prayers that Thursday evening. A Holy day for a good soul to take their final resting place in this world… some of the Alabama politicians I’ve held dear would connect at Chris’ Hot Dogs. Every time I ate there it would remind me of my maternal grandfather’s restaurant near the Capitol Building in Raleigh, NC where politicians would come eat some good Greek “Soul Food” and ask his thoughts on the ‘issues du jour.’ Long before I would become an Alabama Gazette columnist, Theo suggested I take a copy as he was certain I’d appreciate some of the articles… many thanks Theo.


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