When Blaine Kuhn called the Fort Mill Times as a young sixth grader, he just wanted a job delivering papers. Much to his surprise, he was offered the chance to write a column instead.
That was about 10 years ago, and the former “Blaine’s Bulletin” writer was recently selected as the Commander of the 2017 Summerall Guards at The Citadel.
“(It) is the biggest honor I have ever received,” said Kuhn, who turned 21 in February.
Looking back, Kuhn said it was actually a story he wrote for the Times about a Navy sailor that first sparked his interest in the military.
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“The whole experience was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “(It also) helped me develop my love for writing.”
Kuhn went on to graduate from Nation Ford High School and enrolled at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, where he majors in political science, with a focus on international politics and military affairs.
There he completed Bond Volunteer Aspirant Training, an intense four-month training and evaluation process where the Summerall Guards are chosen. BVAs shave their heads, are inspected in unannounced formations and are required to memorize facts and figures about the current Summerall Guards, including their feats and accomplishments throughout training.
“The most difficult and memorable part of BVA training is the physical training,” Kuhn said.
Over the course of 19 days, BVA’s participate in hours of rigorous stationary exercises and then go through formation runs that vary in difficulty, all while carrying an M-14 rifle.
“Only BVA’s that meet and exceed the highest standards are selected to become guards,” he said. “BVA training was without a doubt, the most difficult yet rewarding experience of my life to date.”
The Summerall Guards, an elite silent drill platoon comprised of 61 members, has been an institution at The Citadel since 1932 and are considered one of the highest honors a cadet can achieve. They perform at football games at both the college and professional level, Mardi Gras and the Azalea Festival, as well as during other important weekends on campus.
The Commander of the Guards leads the platoon and is responsible for duties that include coordinating the performances, acting as a liaison with Citadel administration, handing Guard/Corps relations and executing BVA physical training.
“He can (also) be seen standing to the left of the platoon, carrying a sword during performances,” Kuhn said.
The Fort Mill native was nominated by his peers to go before a board of administrators and was chosen as the commander.
“I was extremely humbled to have even been nominated, much less chosen to lead my classmates that I went through BVA training with,” he said.