Friday, June 14, 2024

The Differences Among Linton Hall's Oficers

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." -- Animal Farm by George Orwell, a book we read in English class at Linton Hall.

Not all officers were equal. The difference was not just in rank, but in position, i.e., the role the officer played.

I've mentioned the not unusual case of an officer being demoted to Private, while keeping his position as Platoon leader or Company Commander, in a blog post in 2011 ("Getting Bumped: The Officer's Rite of Passage.") On the other hand, officers of the same rank could hold positions of far differing responsibility, challenge and prestige.

The top dog (to keep the animal analogy) was the Battalion Commander, who would typically reach the rank of Major. Second only to the Commandant in power and authority, he was of unquestioned loyalty, obedience, and compliance with Linton Hall's rules. His position made him feared by everyone, including his fellow officers, and this was a double edged sword, since it also had the effect of isolating him socially from others. Whereas it was not uncommon for a Second Lieutenant to be friends with a Captain, it was difficult for anyone to let his guard down around the Battalion Commander, for fear of accidentally committing some infraction or saying something negative about Linton Hall.

Since he, as well as his adjutant and the Battalion Sergeant Major did not belong to any company, he would end up sleeping in the dormitory of one of the companies. I had the occasion to have him in my dormitory one year, so I got to observe him a lot -- from a safe distance, as he did not cut anyone any slack.

It's a stretch to generalize about Battalion Commanders, since there was only one each year, but I think I can safely say that they were the most loyal and most qualified leaders; I say this as someone who was not even a potential candidate for that position. But another consideration was height -- which was mostly due to the Battalion Commander’s age, as he was about two years older than the typical eighth grader, and had the advantage of intimidating physical size working in his favor.

Second in command to the Battalion Commander was his Adjutant. I can best compare his position as that of the Vice President of the U.S.. Although a prestigious position, the Adjutant had a very limited role. He only took over the Battalion Commander's duties on rare occasions, such as when the Battalion Commander lay sick in bed from the flu. Other than reporting a count of cadets, which involved adding up the numbers reported by each of the Company Commanders, the Adjutant did not do much. Don't get me wrong -- I believe that the Adjutants were fully qualified to take over as Battalion Commanders -- it's just that the occasion rarely arose and, given the extreme loyalty and punctiliousness of Battalion Commanders, the Adjutant had no reasonable chance of taking the Battalion Commander’s spot, although typically he would be reach the rank of Captain.

The Adjutant did sleep in my dorm one year (not the same year as the Battalion Commander) and he was very much a slacker who went with the flow, followed the rules, but did not display much motivation or ambition. That's understandable, since he had little to do and no prospects of promotion. Just as an example, it was customary to rotate the responsibility of leading the dorm in the morning activities of getting dressed, washing and making one's bed between the Company Commander, the two Platoon Leaders, and eventually the Company Sergeant. The Adjutant was also given this opportunity as a courtesy, which he declined.

The battalion also had a Sergeant Major, a seventh grader who it was tacitly understood would be Battalion Commander the following year. I believe that most would agree with me that Adjutant was a position entailing less leadership, and thus being less desirable, than either Company or Platoon Leader.

Some years there was an additional officer in battalion staff, a Supply Officer, whose responsibility was to run the arsenal, where drill rifles and camping and hiking equipment were kept. As this position dealt with equipment and not people, it required little to no leadership skills, and appears to have been given as a reward to someone who tried hard, followed all the rules, may even have been outstanding at drill, but just lacked leadership skills.

When I was at Linton Hall there were five companies: two junior companies, A and B, two senior companies, C and D, and the Drum and Bugle Corps, sometimes also known as Company E, and was considered a senior company. Each company had three officers: a Company Commander and the First and Second Platoon Leaders.

The two junior companies had younger cadets, those in second through fourth or fifth grade, and the other companies had older cadets, generally in fifth through eighth grade. This was a general rule; those in the middle, specially fifth graders, could end up in a junior or senior company based upon their age or rank; for example, a fifth or sixth grader could end up as squad leader in a junior company, or a fourth grader who had repeated the fourth grade could end up in a senior company. The officers, however were always eighth graders, and the sergeants typically seventh graders, in both junior and senior companies. Some of the sergeants were eighth graders.

A much-debated question, which has good arguments on both sides, is whether it was more difficult, and thus more prestigious, to be an officer in a junior or senior company. On the one hand, it may seem easier to be an officer in a junior company, since the major advantage in age and size made an officer more intimidating to younger cadets, even though officers were not allowed to use corporal punishment. As an aside, I agree that it would have been wrong for a 13-year old officer to hit a younger child. Yet why was it allowed for a 40-plus year old man or woman to repeatedly strike a child with a wooden paddle or leather strap?

On the other hand, although older cadets were often not intimidated by an officer's size, they were better able to understand the consequences of demerits and court martials.

As to drill, it was more challenging to deal with younger cadets, who had not yet developed the motor skills, or ability to understand the details of the various commands. This became very clear to me one time when supervising third grade study hour (officers were rotated among the different grades, so each of us had the opportunity to supervise cadets of the various grades.) There was a third grader who, although trying his best, would get right and left confused. I realized that he was well-intentioned and tried to explain the difference between right and left without yelling at him, but I was unsuccessful.

I had no personal experience with the Drum and Bugle Corps, but I believe that it was the most challenging company to lead, or, for that matter, to be in, as those in that company had to spend time practicing their instruments, in addition to drilling. Someone who had been in the Drum and Bugle Corps contends that holding a certain rank in the D & B Corps was the equivalent of holding a rank one level higher in another company; for example, a PFC in the D & B Cwould be the equivalent of being a corporal in another company, but I disagree.

Company Commanders would generally rise to the rank of Captain, although some graduated as First Lieutenant, sometimes not having been promoted to Captain, but more often having previously reached the rank of Captain but been demoted by one level for disciplinary reasons.

Each company consisted of two platoons. Neither the Company Commander nor the Company Sergeant belonged to either platoon.

The platoons were called First and Second Platoon, but despite the name implying that First was better or more prestigious, I think most will agree with me that the Second Platoon leader had a more challenging job at drill. As the First Platoon marched in front of the second, the Second Platoon leader found it more difficult to hear and repeat the Company Commander's commands, and had to get the timing just right when saying the second part of the command, as in "Reverse ... March!" Also, in the specific case of "Reverse ... March!" as soon as the command was given, the Company Commander ended up at the back of the marching platoon, with the leader of the Second Platoon leading the company until the Company Commander could make his way to what was now the front of the company. Outside of drill, the responsibility and challenge of leading the first or second platoon was the same. The Commandant had once mentioned that he did his best to balance the distribution of cadets who were either disciplinary problems, or especially good or bad at drill, both between the two platoons within a company and between competing the two junior and the two senior platoons. In his office he had a wall rack with a card for each cadet, arranged to show who was in which platoon and company, and what rank and position he held. The Commandant mentioned that many times he had taken an instant picture with a Polaroid camera, to study the composition of the Cadet Corps in the evening. (That was the state of available technology at the time.) He deserves credit for that.

Some Platoon Leaders had risen to First Lieutenant at the end of the year; others either had not been promoted to that rank, or had been promoted and then demoted, and graduated as Second Lieutenants. A few who had been bumped to private and had not had their rank restored but still retained their position, often because it would not have been fair to those under their command to be assigned a new officer shortly before the Military Day drill competitions, ended up being listed in the Military Day program as "Platoon Leader ... John Doe ... First Platoon Leader" instead of the typical "First Lieutenant ... John Doe ... First Platoon Leader." What may have looked as a mistake in the program to many parents and guests was painfully clear to those in the know.

I won’t repeat my dscription of officer insignia, as I’ve previously covered the topic. The Commandant was once asked why the insignia was different than in the U.S. Military. His explanation (I’m paraphrasing) was that it was “Because if you’re sitting in some shopping mall and some serviceman who’s just come back from Vietnam sees you wearing officer insignia, he has to salute you.” When someone said that he could obviously see that we were kids and not real officers, he said that it didn’t matter; if he sees the insignia, he has to salute you.

This post reflects my thoughts on the matter. Others will disagree with some of my views about the responsibility, and desirability of the various positions. As always, I welcome differing point of view, as they can point out things I haven't thought of. I only ask that you explain your reasoning, and that it be based on more than just “I was a ----- and I think my position was far more important and challenging than you describe.”


Read more in my book, "Linton Hall Military School Memories,"

over 200 pages, 7x10 inches, only $5.69 (or less) at


Copyright 2024 by Linton Hall Cadet. Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting. This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author. Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.

Linton Hall Photos (part 2) Linton Hall Cemetery

Here are more photos provided by an alumnus. These are of the Linton hall Cemetery, located on the Linton Hall property, north of the pool.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Sister Mary David, former LHMS Principal, Dies

Sister Mary David, who for many years was the principal of Linton Hall Military School, has died on May 21, 2023. She was 93 years old.
Born Doris Carolyn Nolte on October 27, 1929 in Henrico, Virginia, outside Richmond, she was one of seven children: four boys and three girls. Both her paternal grandparents were born in Germany; her maternal grandparents and her parents were all born in Virginia, according to U.S. Census records. Her oldest brother, William J. Nolte, Jr., became a Catholic priest; he died in 2002.
Doris Nolte entered the Benedictine sisters convent upon graduating from St. Getrude High School in Richmond, and professed her vows in 1949, taking the religious name of Sister Mary David, presumably chosen from the names of two of her siblings. She graduated from St. Joseph's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland and St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota.
She was principal of Linton Hall Military School in Bristow, Virginia for several years, where she also taught Mathematics and Science, and has also taught at other schools in Virginia. She subsequently received a nursing degree and specialized in care of the elderly and hospice care. In recent years she also participated in the BEACON adult literacy program. She also resumed use of her birth name, being known in recent years as Sister Doris Nolte, OSB.


Copyright 2024 by Linton Hall Cadet. Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting. This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author. Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sister Mary David, OSB Writes Back

For the past eight years, I've been writing about Linton Hall Military School, which I attended while Sister Mary David was principal. A few years ago, she resumed use of her birth name, and is now known as Sister Doris Nolte, OSB. She is still at the convent in Bristow, where she is involved in projects including adult literacy and training caretakers.

I believe that, as Principal, she was ultimately responsible for both the good and bad aspects of LHMS. Therefore, I wrote her a few days ago, asking for an apology. I wrote:

"Sister Doris Nolte,
I attended Linton Hall while you were principal.
Linton Hall was good academically, as were the field hikes and camping.
However, punishments were cruel and excessive, including ..."

(A long summary of the negative aspects of Linton Hall which I've written about on my blog follows.)

"Now the truth is out, shared and corroborated by many LHMS alumni, thanks to the Internet.
I don't wish for what you did to us to be done to you, since to wish that would take me down to your level.
But I do believe that a sincere, public apology from you to the hundreds of cadets who attended Linton Hall while you were principal is the least you can do, and is long overdue.
If you decide to reply, I will publish your response on the internet for all to see. If there's no reply within fifteen days, I will report that fact, and your silence will speak louder than words.
A Linton Hall Alumnus
(It doesn't matter who I am. I am one of hundreds who suffered at Linton Hall.)"

Here is her reply:

"I'm very sorry these things happened while you were at Linton Hall. I'm not aware of all the things you spoke of, but I'm sure they were traumatic to some of the cadets. Forgive us all for the unpleasant things you experienced while a student with us. We meant no harm, but we tried, to the best of our ability, to make Linton Hall a safe and caring environment. If you wish to discuss this further feel free to visit me at the monastery here in Bristow.

Peace and blessings,
Sister Doris (formerly Sister Mary David)"

After much reflection, I replied:

"Sister Doris,
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Although I would not characterize LHMS as "caring," I accept your apology and forgive you. I wish you well.
I can speak only for myself, and will share your reply with other alumni."

I have not asked for permission to share her email address, but if you'd like to write to Sister Doris Nolte, OSB, the address of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia is the same as for Linton Hall School, and can be found on the web.
Alumni comments are welcome. My Facebook page is visible only to LHMS alumni who've friended me, whereas the blog can be seen by all. You may wish to comment in both places.


Copyright 2018 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting.
This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author.
Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Maxime "Max" DuCharme, Commandant of Linton Hall Military School, Passes Away

(Updated on June 18, 2024 to include precise date and cause of death, and to add a copy of his draft registration card.) Maxime "Max" Louis DuCharme, Jr. who was Linton Hall Military School's fourth and last Commandant, passed away on June 8, 2018 at “22:23 Military” time (according to the death certificate) at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, Montana due to a complete heart block two days before his death. He was ninety years old. Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. on June 21 at Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman, Montana. Mr. DuCharme was cremated. Born on December 17, 1927, in Washington, D.C., he was himself a Linton Hall alumnus, having attended during seventh and eighth grade.

In 1946, he graduated from Belmont Abbey, a high school founded by Benedictine monks (and later a four-year college) in Belmont, N.C.. Belmont Abbey's 1946 yearbook, the Spire, below his name bears the quote "The cynosure of neighboring eyes," a quote from John Milton's 1645 L'Allegro. He is described in the yearbook as "A happy-go-lucky fellow, handsome, plays football, and loves a good bull session. His effervescent friendliness and his gentlemanly manner [have] won many friends for him during his past four years at the Abbey. He is a cadet Lieutenant."

At age 18, after graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines, and trained at Parris Island, S.C. and Camp LeJeune, N.C.. As a Marine, he was sent to Trinidad, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and various European countries, and later participated in the 1950 landing in Inchon, Korea. He was later Operations Chief of the Engineering section of the Equipment branch, and did a tour of duty on the Japanese island of Okinawa. He married and had a son, then in 1959 became a Marine recruiter in Traverse City, Michigan. He retired from the USMC with the rank of Master Sargeant. A proficient marksman, he was awarded at least two NRA medals.

In 1965 he became Linton Hall's fourth and final Commandant. After the school dropped the military program, he continued at Linton Hall, teaching "Outdoor Education, Conservation and Ecology" (OECW) which apparently is quite similar to the field hikes of LHMS.

His wife, Agnes Louise, passed away in 2011 at age 80.

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle and various other sources.


Copyright 2018 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting.
This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author.
Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Linton Hall Military School Uniform Pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words ... here are some photos of the Linton Hall dress uniform.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Linton Hall's Benedictine Tradition: The Shocking Truth

On the web, Linton Hall School describes itself as "a Catholic school in Benedictine Tradition." So what really is this "Benedictine Tradition?" I doubt that most people really know; and I think it likely that most will be shocked to learn the truth.

"Benedictine" refers to Benedict of Nursia (480-547) who founded a dozen monasteries near Rome. He was proclaimed a saint in 1220 and the Order of St. Benedict was named after him.

Just what were Benedict's beliefs, precepts and values? They are found in the Rule of St. Benedict, which he wrote to govern behavior in the monasteries he founded. Although the original was destroyed by fire in 896, various (handwritten) copies remain, the most reliable the one kept in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Benedict saw obedience as a master virtue, and advocated the annihilation of self will. That's right, human beings who are given free will by God should instead obey a "superior" (Benedict, for example.) Alumni of Linton Hall Military School should not be surprised at this.

To justify his Rule, Benedict selectively quotes the Bible. This reminds meme of a quote in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice"-- "The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

In Chapter 2 of his Rule, Benedict states "the proud, the disobedient and the hard-hearted should be punished with whips, even at the first signs of sin." To justify this, he cites "The fool is not corrected by words" (Proverbs 29:19) and "strike your son with rod and you shall deliver his soul from death" (Proverbs 23:14.) Needless to say, he does not explain what makes Benedict, or any abbot for that matter, qualified to whip others.

Chapter 4 contains a long list of "instruments of good works," or rules, the first seven of which rephrase seven of the ten Commandments. Not content to quote God's words, Benedict must have thought he could do a better job restating them. Some of the gems written by Benedict include #11, "chastise the body," #12, "not love pleasure," #59, "despise one's own will" (presumably this does not apply to Benedict, since he believes his will should be followed by the monks, for #59 states "obey the abbot's commands in all things.)

In Chapter 5 he repeats this, stating "obey any command of a superior as if it were a command of God." This ties in with my blog post of February 17, 2011, "Blind Obedience at Linton Hall." I should point out that in the officer commission I received at Linton Hall Military School, lower-ranking cadets were required to follow only lawful commands. This limit on authority came up as well in conjuction with both the Nuremberg trials and the My Lai Massacre trial.

Benedict further states that "God will not be pleased by the monk who obeys grudgingly" (as you can see, Benedict has appointed himself as God's spokesman) and attempts to justify this statement by quoting 2 Corinthians 9:7 which states that "God loves a cheerful giver" and which clearly refers to something entirely different than Benedict's position. In fact, 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, in its entirety, "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

Chapters 24, 25 and 26 advocate shunning as punishment, and the same shunning to anyone who should speak or meet with someone who is the subject of shunning.

If shunning is not enough, Chapter 28 advocates punishment by whipping, and Chapter 30 advocates enforced fasting or flogging of youths.

Chapter 33 speaks of the "vice of private ownership" and states that no one should give, receive or keep anything, not even a book, tablet or pen, and that "all things are to be common to every one," using as justification for his position the fact that the Apostles shared things. Quite a stretch between voluntary sharing and involuntary abolition of private property, it seems. He adds that "monks have neither free will nor free body." Can you get more autocratic than that? And can you get farther away from 2 Corinthians 9:7 cited above, which refers to voluntary giving and goes against both compulsion and against Benedict's contention that monks have no free will.

Benedict wasn't much of a fan of personal hygiene. In Chapter 36 he states that "The sick should be permitted baths as often as necessary but the healthy and especially all young are to bathe rarely." Well, I do suppose that bathing rarely does make a vow of chastity easy to follow!

Though according to Benedict "monks have neither free will nor free body" (in Chaper 33, quoted above) Benedict says that "if one makes a mistake in chanting a psalm ... he must immediately humble himself publicly ... children should be whipped for these mistakes." (Chapter 45.)

Chapter 54 forbids the giving or sending of letters or parcels even to or from one's parents without the abbott's permission, and if any parcels are received the abbott may give them to whomever he decides. Linton Hall Military School alumni will certainly recall the censorship of outgoing (and, less frequently) incoming letters, even between cadets and their parents.

Chapter 69 advocates punishment for those who seek to defend or protect another. In other words, the virtue of compassion is a punishable offense.

In chapter 63, Benedict states that the "abbot, however, since he takes the place of Christ, shall be called Abbot or My Lord."

I believe that Benedict was quite unlike Jesus Christ (Jesus offered mercy and forgiveness) and Benedict was autocratic, self-righteous and arrogant, and does not deserve to be called a saint.

P.S.: This would have made for an interesting book report for Religion class when I attended Linton Hall, don't you think?

Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict, translated by Anthony C. Meisel and M. L. del Mastro. New York: Image Books / Doubleday, 1975.

Read more in my book, "Linton Hall Military School Memories," over 200 pages, 7x10 inches, only $5.69 at
Copyright 2017 by "Linton Hall Cadet."
Please respect copyright by linking to this post instead of copying and pasting.
This blog is not affiliated with Linton Hall Military School and all opinions are those of the author.
Comments are always welcome; please do not use your name or names of others.