Glee Club Performs in Puerto Rico for Spring Break
The VMI Glee Club traveled to Puerto Rico during Spring Break, March 11-20th and performed at eight venues in ten days. The 38 member unit, led by Col. John Brodie and accompanied by Lt. Col. “Willy” Funkhouser and Captains Crespo Bosiak, Jackson and Floyd of the US Air Force. The unit travelled to the island on a KC-135 Refueling plane provided by the 434th Airwing from Grissom AFB in Indiana. The Cadets were hosted by Lt. Col. Jose Plaza and the US Army Puerto Rican Fusion Cell whose hospitality and kindliness made the entire ten days a marvelous tour. The Fusion Cell arranged bus and van transportation, billets and food at the Camp Santiago Training Center in Salinas, and all of the performances and tours for the entire week. The cadets were greeted by and gave an “old yell” to Co.. (Ret.) Roberto Gorbea ’62 a prominent businessman, and BR of our Superintendent, Gen. JBH Peay III, who generously donated the use of two 15 passenger vans for transportation to and from the base for the entire week.
The Club performed at three large Veterans hospitals and a Veterans retirement home (there are over 165,000 Veterans in Puerto Rico) the Ponce Museum of Art, Puerto Rico’s premier art museum, and on St. Patrick’s Day at the Community Club at Ft. Buchannan in San Juan as guests of Colonel John Cushman, Base Commander. The highlight of the week of performances was a concert on 15 March at a beautiful dome gallery in the Senate building where the Glee Club was presented an official Resolution from the Puerto Rican Senate by Senator Lucy Arce, who recognized and thanked the cadets for their concerts and interaction with the people of Puerto Rico. The cadets then spent the rest of the day exploring El Morro and Old San Juan before returning to Camp Santiago.
The cadets were also able to enjoy two days of liberty in Puerto Rico. On Wednesday 16 March the group where were guests of Brig. Gen. Anthony Maldonato USA (Ret) at the Playa Del Mar Resort on the eastern end of the island, and on Saturday 19 March the cadets were able to take a tour and spend the day exploring the El Yunke Rain Forest. As a result of friendships made during the week, the entire club was invited to the home of Fernando and Hernando Perez, private caterers who threw a big cook out for the cadets and staff at their home in Caguas.
The most remarkable aspect of the trip was the minimal cost of the trip as billets, air travel and much of the food was provided through the auspices of the Puerto Rican Army Fusion Cell. The cost of taking 43 cadets and staff for ten days was $25 dollars per person day. This could not have been accomplished without the generous support of Lt. Col. Plaza and the Fusion Cell, the 434th Indiana Airwing, and Colonel Gorbea ’62.