A Key Cadet Is Missing At Academy

Posted: August 07, 1990

The most famous cadet at the Valley Forge Military Academy and Junior

College disappeared from the Wayne campus 12 days ago, snatched in a midnight raid by kidnappers in front of the superintendent's office.

The five-foot-tall, 300-pound cadet was last seen standing at attention in parade dress uniform atop a red brick pedestal - the same place he has stood since 1957.

The bronze statue, a campus landmark outside the administration building, was swiped between 11 p.m. July 26 and 1 a.m. July 27.

Retired Vice Adm. N. Ronald Thunman, school superintendent, said yesterday that the academy will pay a $1,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the purloined cadet. The statue, Thunman said, "is the cornerstone of the traditions established within the academy's corps of cadets."

Radnor Police Chief Maurice L. Hennessy said police had no leads in the case but were looking for more than one thief. "It would take more than one person, that's for sure," Hennessy said.

"It would take two or three guys with a truck to carry off that statue," Thunman said. "It must have taken a half-hour to an hour for them to break off those support rods."

Thunman said the cadet was bolted to the pedestal and surrounded by a six- foot wrought-iron fence. The pedestal was cracked when the statue was removed. Traces of patina remain where the bronze stood.

The ramrod-straight figure was cast in 1956 by Harry Rosin, a noted sculptor from New Hope. A year later, it was presented as a gift to Lt. Gen. Milton G. Baker, founder and first superintendent of Valley Forge Military Academy.

Rosin also captured in bronze the drama of John B. Kelly Sr. rowing a single scull, as Kelly did in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics when he won gold medals. The statue is on Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park. Rosin also taught art for many years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

The plaque on the academy pedestal reads: "From the embattled fields of Valley Forge went men who built America. From the training fields of Valley Forge go men who will preserve America."

The model for the statue was retired Col. Philip C. Medenbach, the school's highest-ranking cadet in 1956. His father, Maj. Gen. Milton H. Mendenbach, was commandant of cadets for more than 40 years at the academy and superintendent in 1971.

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