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How I got my appointment to West Point
Like most of you, I have been impressed with the many discussions about 'How we got to West Point'. Also like many, I have written an autobiography as part of my Family History for those of my family who may at some time wish to know more about their past. By the way I have titled this 'history' 'Never Lower the Crossbar' which is another way of defining the West Point Motto - Duty - Honor - Country.
Here is my story somewhat abbreviated:
I was attending Clifford J Scott High School in East Orange New Jersey where I was doing pretty well as an athlete and very poorly as a student. But the athlete in me earned me an opportunity to seek a higher education. I survived the 'recruiting' by many colleges in the East and settled on accepting a scholarship to play football for George Munger at the University Of Pennsylvania. Soon after this verbal acceptance..(there were no Letters of Intent in those days.) . I was notified by my High School Coach that two members of the Football staff at West Point would like to speak with me about West Point. At this time I only knew that West Point was in New York and Blanchard and Davis were great players there. Living but fifty miles from West Point, I had no idea of the background and history of this great institution but that the football program generated great interest.
A few days later I was introduced to two members of the West Point football staff...Captain John Greene and a civilian coach ..Vince Lombardi. I knew of Mr Lombardi from his high school coaching at St. Cecilia's in New Jersey but had never met an Army officer especially one who chewed tobacco. They asked of my interest in West Point and I allowed as I had little knowledge of this institution but would get back to them as soon as possible. After a discussion with my parents, who could not afford to pay for a college education, and after an extended family meeting I decided West Point would be my best choice. I notified Mr Lombardi of my decision and he informed me that he and Captain Greene had looked deeper into my high school grades and concluded that I needed to attend a Preparatory School to prepare for the Entrance Exam; that I needed to secure an appointment from my Congressman: and I would need to pass the West Point Entrance Exam.
Vince Lombardi and Captain Greene suggested that I leave High School (this was in April 1951 and HS graduation was June 1951) come to West Point and spend the next few months in a Preparatory 'school' run by the Athletic Department. This 'school was known as The Blaik School. ( Before I could go to West point I took a Civil Service Exam given, by my local congressman, to about eight other West Point Applicants to determine who would receive the appointment. (I would find out later that I was selected as the Primary) My high school administrators OK'd my early departure and I made plans to go to West Point. (Never been there before).
I reported in to the Athletic Department on or about 5 April 1951. Here I was introduced to 22 other athletes, mostly football players, in the same situation as I was. Among those was Pete Vann, Howie Glock, George Kavalchek, and Dumbo Millar. We were housed in the old Smith Rink..slept in bunks set up in the visiting team dressing room, had meals in the various mess's on post, worked out daily at Howze Field and attended class 4-5 hours during the day and a few hours in the evening. Most of the instructors were in civilian clothes, except one AF major who taught English in uniform. The teaching methodology used was to 'teach the test'. This school had been in operation for many years and after each Entrance Exam taken by the group, they were asked to remember the test questions which were then put into a file which formed the basis for instructing the next class of The Blaik School. In June we were transported to Stewart Field to take the June Entrance Exam. When I opened the test booklet I was surprised to see that the Exam format had been changed, the questions were in no way similar to those we were schooled on. My heart skipped a few beats but I managed to answer all of the questions. In the past 98% of those attending The Blaik School had passed the Entrance Exam and were admitted to West Point. In our case less than 50% passed, most likely because of the change in the Exam. (Recall that the Cheating Scandal had just been made public and I believe this led the Academy to make changes to the June Entrance Exam.) About thirty days later I was notified that I had passed the entrance exam and should report to West Point on July 3, 1951 - which I did!!
However, I still needed to close the loop with the University Of Pennsylvania. I called Coach Munger and after a brief discussion he verbally released me from my commitment to Penn.
The rest is history.
4 AUG 2010
PS: Although I never completed High School, I was given High School credit for attending the Prep School, was considered a graduate and did receive a diploma sometime that summer.
Also of interest is that eleven athletes in The Blaik School of 1951 passed the Entrance Exam, seven were admitted as Cadets, (four turned down admission), three graduated and only one did so in four years. (The Blaik School ended in June 1951).
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BRIGADIER GENERAL RICHARD G CARDILLO
(Updated May 2011)
General Cardillo was born on 23 April 1933 in East Orange, New Jersey. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy in 1955. He also holds a Master of Science Degree in Public Administration from Shippensburg State College, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. His military education includes completion of the Infantry Basic Course, The Armor Advance Course, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the United States Army War College.
He has held a variety of important command and staff positions culminating in his last assignment as Chief of Staff of V Corps in Europe during the period 1983-85. Other key assignments held include Commander of the 2nd Battalion 67th Armor at Fort Hood, Texas; Commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas; Assistant Division Commander of the 8th Infantry Division in Mainz, Germany; and Deputy Commanding General and Chief of Staff of The United States Army's Western Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
Awards and decorations which General Cardillo has received include the Distinguished Service Medal, The Bronze Star Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Army Commendation Medal and the Parachutist Badge.
Upon retirement in 1985, General and Mrs. Cardillo retired to Colorado and currently reside in Westminster, Colorado. In 1986 he was employed by the University of Colorado for duty in the Athletic Department as an Academic Advisor/ Counselor to athletes, a position he held for three years. In 1989 he was selected as an associate Athletic Director and the first Director of the Athletic Department's Student Services Directorate. There he managed the day to day services provided all student-athletes to include their academic support, their health and well being, their equipment needs, their strength and conditioning, and their nutritional needs. In his role as an Associate Athletic Director he was also assigned the responsibility to manage all of the Department's Twelve Non Revenue producing Sports programs, The Athletic Department's Compliance Program, The Title IX Program, The Departments first Life Skills Program, and the Athletic Departments Gender Equity Program. He served two Athletic Directors and six University Presidents before he retired in 1999.
For the past fifty - five years General Cardillo has been married to the former Inez W Stewart. They have two married sons, three granddaughters, three grandsons and one great grandson and two great granddaughters. Their oldest son, Richard Jr., after 30 years of military service with the US Army retired as a Colonel and currently resides in Monument Colorado Their youngest son, Robert, is the Deputy Director of Intelligence and lives in the Washington DC area.