General T. L. Futch
Brigadier General T. L. Futch

General Futch's Built-In Early Warning System


The Salute

By Brian V. Brunner ('64)
Powder Springs, GA - 7/2001


Why these things always come to mind, when I think of General Futch I will never know. I guess all the really important things about him I just take for granted and remember little day-to-day things. I will write these things down just in case someone who knew the General should read this and smile.

Part I - The Built-in Early Warning System.

Anyone who knew Gen. Futch can tell you he had a habit smoking cheap cigars. I think "Roi-Tan" was the most common brand he smoked. This habit seemed to be a permanent feature with the General. The only times he did not have one of those cigars lit was when he was eating a meal in Ross Hall or during a live dress parade. So the smell of those cigars was his built-in warning system.

The best single instance of the "Gen. Futch Early Warning System" I can recall is this one:
During the first semster of my senior year I lived in room #15 in the corner of Friendly Hall. That room was in lower right corner of the "U" shaped wing of the building. This school year if anyone had a ninety-minute study hall period during the morning classes he was suppose to be in his dorm room studying. We did not have a "Study Hall" classroom in Tallapoosa Hall that could hold everyone that year. In prior years we would attend study hall in the library in Tallapoosa Hall.

This particular study hall found me alone in my double room about 10:30 AM. Each Tuesday we pulled all the sheets off the beds to send to the laundry. This was a Tuesday and our mattresses were folded double on the springs to air out. Because the beds were not made up this was the only day you could lay down on your bunk during the daytime. So I lay down, fully dressed, to take a nap in what I called the back room.

I hope this story will make sense, as I am having to fill in so many details here and there. Anyway, as you can guess, sleeping during study hall was against the rules, and a staff officer would patrol the dorms to make sure everyone was studying. I was lucky that day because it was General Futch's turn to inspect the barracks. I'm not sure if it was the smell of the cigar or the closing of door of room #1 at the upper left corner of the "U", but something woke me up. I got up and went into the front room and sat down at my desk and pretended to study. By the time I saw Gen. Futch through my hall window he was at the end of hall - the lower left corner of the "U", I could really smell the cigar. You would think with the hall having an open roof the cigar smell would not carry that far, but it did. I was glad he did not catch me sleeping because when you are the company commander in charge of the barracks, it makes breaking the rules very hard to explain! This was probably the most extreme example of the cigar warning system I can come up with, but you see how it worked.

How that memory has stayed with me all these years I don't know, but I do know that whenever I catch the first slight whiff of the odor of a cigar, I start looking around to see what infraction of the rules I might be committing. It is just an instant reflex of my four years at LWMA with Gen. Futch as Commandant.

Part II - THE Salute.

I could not talk about Gen. Futch's cigar and not mention his salute. Whenever the General was standing on the front porch of Russell Hall, or walking on the sidewalk with nothing in his left hand, he would return your salute by removing his cigar form his mouth with his left hand and then return your salute with his right. But whenever he was going to Tallapoosa Hall to teach a class he usually had his books or a book-satchel in his left hand. So the salute went like this; His right hand went to his mouth and the cigar went between his longest and ring fingers, then his hand went to the bill of his hat as the salute. After his hand went down to his side he would return the cigar to his mouth.

With so many cadets having to walk past him between Russell Hall and Tallapoosa Hall the General's right hand was flying all around. So, the big challenge was to see if you could salute him first before he just automatically saluted you before your right hand could move! I can remember one day during my sophomore year when I was rooming with Robert L. Rozelle '64, Bob came in with a big smile on his face and I asked him, "What was so funny?" His reply was that he had just beaten Gen. Futch to the draw in saluting. From then on we played our little game of out-drawing the General if we could.


Here are a few of the important things I remember about General Futch:

1. His overall fairness.
2. His office door was always open to you.
3. His would always listen to your problems, no matter how small.
4. He hated hazing and tried to keep it under control.
5. He was a brilliant man with a great military record.
6. He was able to get LWMA into the NDCC and the JROTC programs.
7. He was great mathematics teacher, as he had graduated for West Point as a math major and wrote artillery textbooks and taught at the Artillery School at Fort Sill Oklahoma.
8. I believe he thought the education part of LWMA was more important than the military part.

Return to the Stories Contents Page.

Return to the Alumni Home Page.