I received a telegram from Senator Smathers at 1715 hrs, 29 June 1965, offering congratulations on being accepted into USMA. I caught a flight out of Panama City, FL, at 0715 hrs, 30 June and flew to JFK. Bus to Port Authority, and then to Highland Falls, arriving around 2000 hrs. Found a room over a bar in Highland Falls and laid awake for a good part of the night. Walked through the gate the next morning and was directed to the gym for in-processing. No orders. No welcome packet. No nothing, except that telegram. The Sergeant I reported to had no idea what to do, nor did the LTC he referred me to. The officer finally decided that I should be “processed, pending determination”, so I entered the whirlwind with everyone else. Didn’t need a haircut, but got one, anyway. The rest was a blur, for me, too. I do remember risking my life by peeking out the window of my room sometime during the day and seeing some prospective new cadet walking into Central Area carrying a large suitcase, golf clubs, and a tennis racket, quizzically gazing about. Later that day, just before the swearing in ceremony, I sneaked another peak out the window, and saw a bald-headed guy with gray shorts, black shoes and black shorts, dragging a suitcase, golf clubs, and a tennis racket, heading back out of Central Area. My orders caught up with me about 2 weeks later, and I received my draft notice just before the end of Beast.
Great life changing event. Would not wish to change any of it, not on your lives! Flew (my first time ever) to Idlewild Airport and bused into Manhattan Hotel. That evening ascended to top of The Empire State and gawked at the world I imagined was there to conquer. Bused into WP the next day and followed the others wearing black low tops from Thayer Hotel to Central Area. The rest is history.
Took a Trailways bus from Norfolk to NYC free because my Dad worked for them. Made it to the bus to West Point and all after that was a haze that I had no clue what was happening. Prior-service stud saved my butt during Beast many times.
I flew to NY from Pittsburgh, then took a bus to Highland Falls. I stayed overnight in some family’s house in what I recall was a converted attic with several bunk beds. There were maybe 6 to 8 new cadets who stayed there. I should have gotten their names, but I didn’t. I think one of them was KC Scull. The next day, I remember running up New South Barracks stairs. Running down the stairs was Dick Carter, a friend from Prep School. Dick quickly said to me, “This is cool!” Well, yes, I guess looking back now, it was cool. Very cool! How many are fortunate enough to experience that and the 4 years that follow? The rest of that day is a complete blur…
I spent the night at a NYC hotel in which other ‘New Cadets” were also staying. A group caught the early bus to WP. After grabbing my stuff from the hold under the bus, I started up the ramp towards the yelling in New South. I nearly ran into the fellow in front of me. I think he may have been the first one to quit our class. He dropped his two bags, did an about face, picked up his bags, exclaimed “What the Hell am I doing here!” and got on the bus back to NYC!