Historical Alumni Records
The VMI Archives contain a biographical file for every alumnus who attended the Institute during the World War I era. These are part of Record Group 13. Files frequently contain information about military service. This collection requires in-person research.
Photo at right: Stephen Yates McGiffert (Class of 1917). Second Lieutenant, 319th Infantry, 80th Division, American Expeditionary Forces.
Alumni Files Spotlight:
In May 1916, while on patrol at the front, he became the first American pilot to down an enemy plane. Rockwell subsequently flew dozens of patrols and fought in many air battles, gaining fame for his skill and courage. His final combat took place on September 23, 1916, when his Nieuport was downed by the gunner in a German Albatross observation plane.
Other Biographical Files
The Archives has individual files for some students who attended intensive summer military training camps at VMI in 1917-1918. These men were not enrolled as VMI cadets. One notable trainee was Walker K. Hancock, who during World War II went on to serve as one of the famed "Monuments Men".