Admiral Winnefeld currently serves as top officer of the Northern Command, based in Colorado Springs, a headquarters created after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and given responsibilities for defense of the American homeland.
But to some, it is more important that he was a Class of 1974 Fort Hunt High School Federal.
The New York Times may have neglected to mention his high school credentials, but Ken Merick made sure to post an announcement on the Fort Hunt High School Facebook page.
Fort Hunt High School, opened from 1963-1985 and now the home of Carl Sandburg Middle School, is alive and well thanks to Facebook and other on-line communities.
Started three years ago by Fort Hunt High School Federal Dave Jones (Class of 1980) the Facebook page has grown to 1471 friends and receives constant posts reminiscing, planning reunions and updating friends on news.
Jones resides outside Charlotte, North Carolina after years in Los Angeles writing films and acting, but his heart is still on Fort Hunt Road.
He remembers a tight-knit community that was all about neighbors and friends.
“I was excited when we reached 20, but our membership is testimony to our incredible Fort Hunt community,” Jones says
In 1985, twenty-two years after its founding, Fort Hunt closed due to declining enrollment, Fort Hunt and nearby Groveton High School were combined to form West Potomac High School (located on Groveton's campus) with Fort Hunt's campus being converted into Carl Sandburg Middle School (which replaced Stephen Foster and Bryant Intermediate Schools).
It was “traumatic” for the Fort Hunt community and the controversial closing is still talked about on Facebook.
Some alumni insist that the spirit of the long-closed high school is stronger and deeper than most.
Temple Musselman Whitson, Class of 1977, thinks that the Fort Hunt HS Alumni are “more alive” than some still existing schools because of “the way it was suddenly yanked from existence.
One of Whitson’s classmates has a husband who, in his years of worldwide travel as they are both officers in the military, has come to believe in the 'Cult of Ft. Hunt'.
“Our alumni are everywhere, but all love where we came from,” she writes.
Fort Hunt Facebook is not the only place on-line for strong connections.
The Fort Hunt High School Class of 1977 webpage is a treasure trove of connections: FHHS Classes of 1965-70, FHHS Class of 1982’s Yahoo group, and Yearbooks from 1983 ,84 ,85, 86 included in the 20 links.
What draws alumni to the on-line connections?
Brad Rees tells his story via Facebook. “Having moved away from Alexandria more than 25 years ago, this group brings back a long-lost connection to the community. It's also interesting to see how others' memories compare to your own."
Rees goes on to share how the small college in Ohio where he teaches music was in need of a fight song, so he adopted Fort Hunt's.
"Now I get to hear the Tiffin University band play it still every time our team scores.”
Fellow alumni Allen Stegall wrote on Faceboook, “I think people are always curious to know what happened to people they went to high school with, perhaps hoping that someone they lost touch with might stumble across this site and say, 'hello!'"
Stegall, for example, found out the whereabouts of one of hia older brother's best friends from the early 70's who then called him.
"In school, kids tended to run in their own groups- jocks, druggies, nerds, etc.," writes Stegall. "It is interesting to see that as you age, the characteristics that defined those groups disappear and we are now just a bunch of 40-70 somethings that are enjoying reading about our long lost beloved high school.”
Upon learning of Admiral Winefelds’ appointment to the Joint Chiefs,Andrew Nance, class of 1973, quipped, “no question but his high school credentials sealed the deal.”
This is the second installment in an occasional series about online communities in the Fort Hunt area. The first installment about Hollin Hills Elementary facebok page can be found here.