Dear Former Fish Drill Team Members and Friends,
As many of you know, the Commanding Officer of the Fish Drill Team has carried with him a very special saber for the last three and a half decades. This saber is named “Woody” and was purchased/donated to the team by Woodrow K. Ratliff’s parents in 1980 as a memorial saber. Ever since, the Fish Drill Team Commander has proudly carried Woody with him in parades and competitions. This blade is very special to us as it is a memorial to a former member of the team. However, after 36 years of usage by FDT, Woody’s time in service is coming to a close. It is our intention to retire Woody to the Corps Center and be displayed permanently in the Fish Drill Team case.
This decision has not been an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. The meaning of this blade to the team, and especially to every commander who has ever borne him, is not able to be articulated. Woody has reached a point, however, where it makes more sense to retire him than to keep him in service. As some of you may know, by 2012 Woody had fallen into a state of disrepair, and was in such bad condition that it was decided he was no longer serviceable to be used by the fish CO. A gentleman by the name of Dr. Browning ’92 became aware of the situation and generously offered to pay for a restoration. Woody was restored during the school year and was able to again be carried by the fish CO for the Class of 2017. During this next year, the tip of Woody snapped off during usage of the blade and was skillfully welded back on, but it left a slight weld mark on the blade. It is only 4 years since the restoration that Dr. Browning helped with, and Woody has begun to have the gold plating chip off, and the grip is beginning to separate from the hilt.
After discussions with Dr. Browning and current advisors to FDT, it was decided that the best course of action would be to retire Woody and purchase a new blade for the Drill Team. We are by no means trying to “replace” Woody, and our goal is not to have a “Woody II.” Our goal with this project is simply to respect Woody and retire him while still in acceptable condition, and to acquire a new saber that reflects the proud tradition of FDT.
It was determined that the best company to manufacture the next FDT saber would be WKC-Solingen. They are based out of Germany and considered one of the best in the business, supplying the entire US military with their ceremonial blades. This new saber will have a custom 30” blade, the twin FDT eagle heads for the hilt, four rubies for the eagles’ eyes, and a scabbard covered in maroon velvet and plated in gold. The total for this project comes out to $3,962.00.
If you would be interested in helping the Fish Drill Team fund the new saber, please get in touch with the Fish Drill Team Association via the Corps of Cadets Association. (Make checks out to FDTA with a note in the memo section 'Woody Saber' and mail to the CCA... 1134 Finfeather Rd., Bryan, Texas 77803-3823). Any donations would be appreciated as we work towards writing this next chapter in the distinguished history of the Fish Drill Team.
Aaron Barclay '18
Fish Drill Team Commander
Born: March 18, 1960
Died: September 1979
Woodrow K. "Woody" Ratliff '82 died in an auto accident on Sept. 2, 1979. He was a member of Company S-2 in the Corps of Cadets and was the guidon bearer for the 1978-79 Freshman Drill Team. A memorial saber dedicated to his memory was donated to the FDT in 1980, regarding which there was a story in Texas Aggie magazine.
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