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History Peeps: Graduate Students attend the SMH Conference

TAMU History students pose for photo at the 2022 Society for Military History Conference

Texas A&M University students made a strong showing at the Society of Military History (SMH) Conference held in Fort Worth, Texas this past April 28th through May 1st, with sixteen students presenting original research. As one of only six US universities designated as a “Senior Military Colleges,” Texas A&M has a long history of excellence in military studies. In the most recent incoming graduate class, five out of eight students had a focus on military history. Because of this, the Society of Military History gathering is widely considered the most important conference of the year for the department, although sixteen presentations was an “unprecedented” showing, according to Dr. Roger Reese, Director of Graduate Studies.

This past spring, TAMU papers ranged from the fall of Rome in the fifth century to the US intervention in Somalia in 1992. Some students argued in favor of a reevaluation of traditional narratives, others explored the social history of a well-known military event, while still others presented operational accounts of a given campaign or deployment. Presentations took place at the opulent Fort Worth Omni Hotel as well as the nearby Fort Worth Convention Center. Dr. Brian Linn and Dr. Lorien Foote chaired panels, and Dr. Foote hosted a welcome lunch for TAMU students on the first full day of the conference. She also provided what many considered to be the highlight of the trip: an excursion to a country dance club later that night.

Brian Donlon, class of ’27 and a US Marine studying at A&M under the Commandant of the Marine Corps Strategist Program (CMCSP), was among the attendees. His paper, A Different Ballgame: The Marine Corps and NATO Cold Weather Exercises in Norway, 1976-1986, featured original research on a little-known US deployment to Norway during the Cold War to deter Soviet aggression. Attending the conference for the first time, he praised “the depth of tenured military historians and aspiring military historians who attended and in almost every case presented from Texas A&M.” Donlon noted, “I don’t think any other school could match it.”

Fellow attendee Kaitlyn Ross, class ’26, analyzed the SMH schedule ahead of time and made a word document showing presentations by TAMU scholars that was widely shared. Because of her efforts, graduate students were able to more easily support their fellow Aggies and learn about their research. One panel that featured Ian Seavey (class of ‘23), Laurence Nelson (class of ’23), and Ben Brewster (class of ’24) nearly ran out of chairs once the entire remaining TAMU contingent arrived. Fortunately, some students graciously offered to stand in the back and the presentations went off without any further hitch.

Patrick Grigsby ‘27