The Skipper Cannon

Part of the story... Using the Yellow Pages, Butch made a providential choice in contacting the Virginia Foundry in Roanoke. When he told the proprietor, Paul Huffman, what the Corps was after, Mr. Huffman told him the foundry would do the casting free of charge. Huffman was a long time fan of the Hokies and a former Greenbrier cadet. Harper also learned that the money that had been collected would purchase a gun carriage from the Lorton Reformatory near Washington, D.C., where Civil War replicas were created for local historical battlefields. The brass was delivered to the foundry, and it was time to cast the cannon. Huffman began pouring the donated brass into a vat for melting down. Within minutes the foundry turned into a war zone with bullets exploding and shooting out of the vat at lightning speed. To everyone's surprise, not all of the collected bullet casings were empty. There were no injuries, other than to the walls of the foundry. So Huffman regrouped, discarded the bullet casings, and added brass from the foundry's stock. Needless to say, on Thanksgiving Day 1963, the VMI Keydets were speechless when VPI rolled out their cannon and fired the first round. The blast was so intense it rattled the glass windows in the sportscasters' booth. VPI won the game 35 to 20. A tradition was born. The Skipper is named in honor of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the very day that the boys were hauling the finished cannon back to Blacksburg from the foundry. Like all Americans, the cadets were deeply affected by the President's death. Later that day, they decided to christen the cannon "Skipper" in honor of Kennedy's naval career.

Skipper Cannon Video -
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