Re-published with permission from the Citadel News Service.
As a cadet Leonid Kondratiuk took refuge in the Daniel Library.
Kondratiuk experienced culture shock when he came to Charleston in August 1967. A self professed Boston Yankee and Ukrainian American, he felt a little out of place in Golf Company and in the Corps of Cadets. The library was the one building on campus then that had air conditioning, but it also had the one thing he had loved since he was a boy – books.
Kondratiuk, (pronounced Con-dray-chuck), would often roam the library stacks exploring the hundreds of books on the shelves. He noticed that many had been donated to The Citadel and that many had come from graduates of the college. As an upperclassman with more time on his hands he was able to check out books that interested him. He was particularly fond of books about military history.
“You know, most cadets do not check out books for pleasure reading, but I always had a library book in my room to read,” he said. “I was always a voracious reader of military history as a boy and that has continued to this day.”
Now a brigadier general in the Massachusetts Organized Militia, retired Army colonel and Director, Historical Services, Massachusetts National Guard, Kondratiuk was impressed by the alumni who had donated books to the library. Before he graduated in 1971 with a degree in history, he had donated his first books. In early 2010 Kondratiuk made his 1,000th donation, prompting library Director Angie LeClercq to organize a ceremony to recognize him for his support and commitment to improving the library collection and to enriching the academic pursuit of cadets and graduate students enrolled at The Citadel.
Kondratiuk will be honored at 10 a.m. Friday, March 19 as part of the Corps Day celebration on campus. Sponsored by the Daniel Library, the ceremony is open to the public.
Kondratiuk has donated mostly books on military history and political science. In 1998, he gave his entire personal library to the college rather than move them again during his travels in the Army. Among the titles in the Kondratiuk collection are “Eyes on the Horizon: Serving on the Frontlines of National Security” by General Richard B. Myers with Malcolm McConnell and “The National Guard and the War on Terror: Operation Enduring Freedom and Defense Transformation” by Michael D. Doubler.
“Quality military and educational resources are at the heart of The Citadel’s leadership development program and our mission of developing talented leaders for the military and the global marketplace,” LeClercq said. “We are deeply indebted to him for what he has given us.”
His books are popular too. According to Kirstin Steele, head of library collections management, 580 of the 1,000 titles Kondratiuk has donated have been checked out several times.
The library accepts all donations. Clean books that are in good condition are preferred. In addition to books, the library is interested in a variety of Citadel-related material, including movies, yearbooks, old editions of “The Shako” literary magazine and “The Gold Star Journal,” the student scholarly journal. For information on donating, click here.
Steele said about 75 percent of library donations are from alumni, like Kondratiuk, or their relatives. Other alumni who have donated to the library include the relatives of Charles Love Terry III, Class of 1970, who gave nearly 1,500 music CD’s. Navy Cmdr. John C. Parry has donated 277 books on military and naval history and Citadel professor John Coussons in 2008 donated more than 400 old Citadel items like commencement programs, yearbooks and sports schedules.
“The thing that most impresses me about Gen. Kondratiuk’s gifts is that he anticipates current and future cadet (academic) needs,” Steele said. “He gives books he knows will be useful to The Citadel family.”
Kondratiuk, who lives in Belmont, Mass., is proud of the collection he has amassed and given to the library. He’s also proud to say he’s read every book he has donated. He calls the library’s collection of military history and political science books “finest military history library in the South.”
“As a professional military historian, I have used a number of academic libraries. During my active duty days I spent a great deal of time using the Army Library in the Pentagon and the U.S. Army Military History Institute, which is the Army's premier military history library in Carlisle Barracks, Pa.,” he said.
A graduate of the Army War College, Kondratiuk’s military career has spanned more than 20 years and included assignments in the Ukraine, as a historian with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and chief of Historical Services at National Guard Bureau. He also served on the U.S. Department of Defense committee to recognize the 50th Anniversary of World War II Committee. He retired from active duty as a colonel in 1999 and went to work as director of historical services at the Massachusetts National Guard. In 2001 he was appointed a colonel in the Massachusetts Organized Militia and in 2007 was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as Director of militia affairs in the Office of the Adjutant General.
Steele said the generosity of alumni sets an outstanding example of leadership for cadets and students in the graduate college as well as faculty and staff.
“I will continue to donate military history books for, I hope, many years to come.” Kondratiuk said. “I am not stopping.”
He’s at 1,006………………and counting.