Lew Nalls ’56 visited Randolph-Macon Academy (R-MA) on September 10, 2014 to return two historical R-MA treasures: first-place trophies from the 1954 and 1956 National ROTC Rifle Matches sponsored by the 2nd Army. Each one, called the William Randolph Hearst Trophy, recognized the R-MA rifle team as the first-place high school team for that year.
Nalls had come into possession of the plaques a number of years ago when the administration was seeking to make some room in displays around campus. Rather than see the trophies end up on a scrap heap somewhere, Nalls took them home to enjoy them for a time—and since his name is on both, it was a well-earned honor.
For Nalls, the plaques held a great deal of sentimental value–he was a member of the rifle team at R-MA for five years. Since only five people competed as part of a rifle team (as is typical to this day), the rivalry to be on the team was intense. The selected students could be rightfully proud of their accomplishment in simply making the team, but during Nalls' time here, they were also very successful against their interscholastic competitors. The students won various state and dual matches as well as national postal matches, a common way to compete in the 1950’s.
“[A postal match] was based on an invitation from a national organization, such as R.O.T.C.,” Nalls explained. “They sent us registered targets. We would shoot in timed matches. The targets were sent back and graded and scored.” Just as in the state and dual matches where the marksmen competed in person, the postal matches required competitors to shoot the targets in three positions: standing, kneeling, and prone.
Nalls was delighted to bring the William Randolph Hearst trophies back to R-MA and present them to Maj Gen Maury Forsyth, president of the Academy, who promised to find an appropriate place to display them. “They belong here, not at my house,” Nalls said.
This isn’t the first treasure Nalls has saved. As a senior at R-MA, he was charged with properly disposing of the wind-torn flag that had flown over the campus all year. Instead, he asked Col Robert Rives, who was the commandant, if he could keep it, and was granted permission. Nalls brought the 48-star flag back to his 50th and 55th reunion for his classmates to enjoy.
Above, Major General Maury Forsyth, USAF Retired, and Lew Nalls ’56 hold the heavy plaques representing R-MA’s first place wins the national R.O.T.C. Rifle Match in both 1954 and 1956. The 1954 team is listed on the plaque as George C. Linsay, Jr; Clyde V. Nordstrom, Jr; Walter L. Nalls, Jr; George L. Hensley, Jr; Hartwell F. Chandler, Jr. The 1956 team listed included Thomas C. Brastow, Robert E. Russum, Walter L. Nalls, Joseph B. Jones, Jr., and Harry A. Powell.