Jim McDonough considers himself a lucky man. He was born into a loving and supportive family, his father a career Army non-commissioned officer and his mother willing to go wherever the Army sent them. Jim got lucky on one of those overseas assignments, meeting his future wife when they were children. He was lucky enough to get accepted to West Point, and even more so to join the great Class of 1969. Jim and Pat were married at West Point – four days after graduation! They have three sons and twelve grandchildren (4 apiece); they are endlessly proud of all of them. It has been a wonderful life, personally and professionally. Many adventures, many delights, great challenges and wonderful people have constantly passed through their orbit.
The Army offered Jim endless chances to rise to occasions (like Ranger School, Vietnam, Rwanda, Bosnia, the National Training School, Jungle Warfare School). But it also gave many openings in practical experience in solving large problems and in wide travel (Korea, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, Africa, the Balkans, and Central America). So, too, it gave him the company of good soldiers with excellent non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers to lead them. When it was over, he missed it all, but moved on to other excitements – the White House for drug control efforts, the Governor’s Office in Florida for more drug control, from there to its prison system (not as an inmate!) and then a short stop in Louisiana. Every once in a while, he got to write something about what he did or saw or thought about and occasionally convince someone to read it and even believe it may be true. He hopes some good will come of that. Chances are if you knew him and he knows you, somewhere there is a waiting-to-be-published piece where you appear in it in some form. Lately, he has been playing chess with anonymous opponents online, but fears he is beaten often by six-year-olds in Uzbekistan or some such place. Other than that, he believes he is relatively harmless these days. Jim has concluded long ago that come what may, he has no right to complain about anything. Good health has been the dominant experience for his family. And he has concluded that he is now safe from dying prematurely young. The truth is he realizes that his good fortune has been more than he should have expected and certainly more than he deserves. He thanks God and his family for all of that, but he also appreciates the nurturing, insights and support of others in our great nation and its noble institutions have given him.
- The Girl I Married (And How I Got There) – 1969When the gates at West Point opened to let us out on June 4th, 1969 there was a mass exodus of the Best of the Line punctuated by … Read more
- West Point, Army Doctrine, and Boxing – 1991Our class went through four years of West Point figuring that it was preparing us for a career of traditional military service. That assumption was essentially correct, although in our lack of … Read more
- Duty: Rwanda – 1994McDonough, DUTY: RWANDA 1994 I had been granted the opportunity to command at brigade level late in my career, something I had aspired to for some time. But it would not … Read more
- Honor: When Honor is Absent – 2006The call from Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff came at 9 o’clock at night. “Can you take over the Florida Correction’s Department at 6 am in the morning?” … Read more
- Country – ReflectionsIn keeping with this site’s call for reflective articles on the meaning of West Point’s motto to us over the years, I offer this impression on the third, and perhaps most … Read more