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How I got my appointment to West Point
I had read a great deal about West Point and Annapolis, and in my wildest dreams imagined myself being a cadet or midshipman. Yet, I figured that my dream was an impossible one. I was in college pursuing a degree in journalism. I came home from work one evening in May of 1950, and dad asked me if I would like to go to West Point. I laughed and said sure, and I'd like to be the first man on the moon, too. He said he was serious, that if I wanted to go the appointment was mine. Then I really laughed and said that it was surely the Democrat Congressman that wanted to give me the appointment (dad was the county Republican chairman). Dad said that the county Democratic chairman had been over that night and said that the congressman had two slots, that he (our county Democratic chairman) could select one boy from our county, and that I was his pick. In retrospect, that sure was good politics.
The congressman was a first termer and had not filled his vacancies in time for the normal exams. So my appointment was an "emergency" appointment to join the Class of 1954, reporting in July of 1950. I had to take the exams at West Point. Dad drove me out. The candidates were housed at Stewart field. Four of us taking the emergency exams (Ed Trobaugh, Lee Halliday, Bob Blitch, and me) struck up a friendship.
At any rate, all I had to take was the PT, the physical, and the West Point aptitude test. My grades (all A's I n college) exempted me from the normal battery of tests-math, English, and history. Never in my life had I taken a test where I wasn't expected to answer all the questions. That aptitude test absolutely blew my mind. I knew that I could not get even half of it done in the hour allotted. Even so, I started with question one and got as many done as I could. I should, of course, have flown through it skipping every question whose answer I was unsure of or which would take a lot of time to figure out. When I came out, I told dad that I flunked the test, and indeed I had. I figured that was that and continued with my journalism plans.
In October of 1950, the congressman who had appointed me, came to town for a political speech. I listened to the speech then went up to say hello. He asked me if I still wanted to go to West Point. I said yes, but I assumed that my alternate had passed and gotten my slot. He said that he had not appointed an alternate and that the principal was mine if I wanted it. I accepted. I knew that I wasn't about to fail this time. I was informed that because of a previous bad showing that I would have to take all of the tests. I didn't have any trouble with them. As to the four who struck up a friendship at Stewart, only Halliday graduated with the Class of 1954. The other three graduated with the last of the great classes.
27 July 2010