Each state has a “West Point Field Force” of volunteer grads and parents who help young candidates assess whether West Point is a fit for them and assist the Congressional staffs and West Point to assess each candidate’s likely degree of success at West Point and in the Army.
In Washington State, our G2 classmate Joe Brillante has led the Field Force since 2004, with distinction. Under Joe, cadets from Washington have punched way over our population weight in the number who became First Captains, Brigade Staff, Regimental Commanders, and Rhodes Scholars, among other honors.
On a Sunday afternoon in September 2021, the Washington Field Force held a by-invitation event for candidates seeking admission to the rising Class of 2026. Two majors from the USMA Department of Admissions were on hand. They and Field Force members, including this author, met with individual candidates. Field Force members wear these magnetic badges that hang in our blazer pockets, and for grads, show class year.
As I was shaking hands with a young candidate for the Class of ’26, he read my badge, and his eyes got big.
“Did you REALLY graduate in 1969?”
“Wow. My father wasn’t even born then.”
“Well, it WAS about a hundred years ago.”
“So that would make you … [eyes rolled up, trying to do the math] …”
“Are you really 73?”
“Last time I checked.”
“Wow. You look pretty good for 73.”
In his defense, the time gap between his prospective West Point experience and mine is huge. It would have been as though, as a candidate, I had been interviewed by a member of the class of 1912!
These young candidates are nearly always amazing, and occasionally entertaining as well. West Point’s future is bright.
Geoff Prosch says
Jim great story. Thanks for your service on the West Point Field Force.
William J. Bahr says
Thanks for the great story!
As you may recall (about 100 years ago 🙂 ), Art Linkletter wrote a book, “Kids Say the Darndest Things!” Yesterday I saw a cop in the grocery store. Time, indeed, is passing. Kids in Blue buy the darndest things! 🙂
Best regards & BOTL,
Eric Robyn says
Jim, thank for your story and an excellent reminder about the quality of the kids applying to WP … even if they do count us old grads among the dinosaurs!
Pete Grimm says
Good ‘un, Jim. Thank you for the story and your continuing Field Force service. The kids really are wonderful, even if we are too old for the kids to do the math in their heads.
Denis Gulakowski says
Very interesting story, Jim. Thanks for reminding us that we are “old grads”. At, approaching or past the three-quarter century mark.
Guy E. Miller says
Times have really changed. In 1965 West Point took care of everything. They established an order of merit within each state, and provided the rosters to the Senators and Congressmen, who just went down the list. No politics whatsoever, at least in my state.. The Academies sent the appointments directly to the candidates, in just one step.
Rick Ricker, F4 says
Great story, Jim…for me West Point admissions seemed to do all the work and my congressman’s approval was a formality…just pick the best candidate was his directive with no “politics” involved to my knowledge…anyway, from one dinosaur to another, thanks for your work in continuing the line.
Ray Dupere says
I sat in on an interview day here in CT several years ago. I remember leaving thinking that if I had to try to get into West Point today I would never make it … the candidates were so impressive. As it is I didn’t make it in 1964 and got a qualified alternate appointment on May 31, 1965. But at least I finally got in!
Bruce Wheeler says
Thanks Jim. I was on the medical review committee when at Keller. Al Rushton was there headed admissions and a neighbor and good friend I continued to do that for a while afterwards and actually backed out after I just felt that it was more difficult for the young to relate to me but it would be to somebody that was much much younger. Thanks for what you doing with Joe is doing and has done. Clearly he deserves great kudos for all his own for over the years.