Thoughts on the Passing of Colonel Tyson Wilson, USMCR

He was a member of the greatest generation.

On his gravestone it will say “Colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserve”. That should say it all, but it doesn’t.

He was a teacher, but that is not sufficient. He was more than a teacher. He was a mentor, a guide, a friend, a counselor. Cadets for over thirty came through his office, came under his spell, learned from his experience as a student and a participant. In short he was the quintessential VMI man.

But he was not a graduate of VMI, but in those thirty years of teaching he became the embodiment of a VMI professor and the VMI man. In addition he was a citizen soldier, a good citizen, a loving husband and a dedicated professional.

For those of us lucky enough to have known him let us raise a glass to his memory. The world is little poorer for his passing.

May you rest in peace good and faithful servant: Tyson Wilson, Colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserve.



  1. Mike Shupp says:

    Tyson Wilson will always be one of the finest men that I have ever met. He was an inspiration at VMI and guided many of us with his leadership and steadfast counsel. He never forgot us and somehow sent us mail even when we were deployed to combat. His handwriting always a challenge to read lifted our spirits and guided our actions. We had a lot to live up to with his courageous action in the Pacific (Tarawa). We have lost a dear friend. May we never forget our memories and may his example inspire us to face the challenges ahead.

    Semper Fi,

    Mike Shupp '81

  2. Joe Leonard '83 says:

    Colonel Wilson taught generations of VMI Cadets not only how to be junior officers but how to think and deal with the realities of life. Even his essay test style (4 factors and a summary) taught us how to proritze and focus on key issues. His approachable and easy-going manner highlighted the value of personalized leadership. He made us better citizens of the world and will be greatly missed.

    Joseph J. LEONARD, Jr. '83

  3. John Miller'61 says:

    Tyson Wilson was one of many great characters who taught history at VMI in the Old Corps. He ,like few others ,was able to make his subject come alive.- he taught Military History then- especially his analysis of the war in the pacific where he served as a junior officer. I know he was in the Tarawa operation and was critical of the Navy for not having had a better iodea of when high tide was relative to his landing craft's position at the reef.

    He now gets to join Smokey Gilliam, Chesty Brooke , Flash Fuller and others of that special breed where ever they are.

    John Miller '61

  4. Robert Murray says:

    A consummate professional, an officer and a Christian gentlemen, Colonel Tyson Wilson epitomized what the Institute has sought to produce so assiduously since it founding…the "citizen soldier." A man of surpassing modesty, Colonel Tyson's combat record and academic achievement contributed immensely to the education of several generations of VMI keydets. Kind, soft spoken and utterly unpretentious, his,demeanor was never pedantically professorial, while his self deprecating outward appearance was utterly at odds with so much of the bluster and self-promotion that characterize much of the contemporary professional officer corps.My undying respect to his memory and deepest condolences to his family. His efforts ensured that the Institute will be "heard from" for generations to come. .

    Robert Murray 72