Worth of a Class



May 26, 2002

LTG William J. Lennox, Jr.

Superintendent

United States Military Academy

West Point, NY 10996

Dear General Lennox:

Forty years ago, the West Point graduating Class of 1962, just over 600 strong, accepted their commissions into the armed forces of the United States and swore to support and defend the Constitution of our great nation.

As this class observes its 40th reunion, we wish to try and assess the contribution of this class to our country. We do so in the belief that the contributions of this single class might be thought typical, as class after class makes equally important contributions, and provide a powerful endorsement of the Academy’s worth.

The question we address, then, is, “What is the worth of a West Point class?”

Military sociologists, politicians, journalists, soldiers, accountants, and critics will all answer differently, using different criteria viewed from a variety of perspectives.

But the biographies of the men from the Class of 1962, as they appear in The Register of Graduates and Former Cadets, USMA, allow a revealing glimpse of the contributions of a West Point class. Not all biographies are complete; many contain no career details at all. What you find attached to this letter, therefore, is an accounting that surely understates the contributions of a West Point class, but these are the contributions we know about.

We hope you will find this summary to be more than simply interesting. It may prove useful to you in explaining to others the unique place occupied by West Point in our nation’s past and present. Please accept it with the best wishes of the West Point Class of 1962 on the occasion of its 40th Reunion and the Academy’s Bicentennial.

Respectfully,

George W. Kirschenbauer

Colonel (Ret.), US Army

President, USMA Class of 1962

—————————————————————————–


The Worth of A West Point Class

Forty years ago, the West Point graduating Class of 1962, just over 600 strong, accepted their commissions into the armed forces of the United States and swore to support and defend the Constitution of our great nation.

Here is an attempt to assess the contributions of a single West Point class to the nation.

Their campaigns included the Cold War, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Somalia, Desert Storm, Vietnam, and the war against terrorism.

They served 568 tours in Vietnam.

Their wounded and killed in action were awarded 96 Purple Hearts.

Twenty-two died as a result of their service in Vietnam.

Their decorations and awards include:

A Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, awarded to a Marine. Another Marine earned the Navy Cross for exceptional heroism. An Infantryman won the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism.

140 Combat Infantry Badges while assigned as members of infantry or Special Forces units while engaged in active ground combat.

63 Silver Stars for gallantry in action performed with marked distinction.

26 Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroic action above and beyond the call of duty while participating in aerial flight.

728 Bronze Star Medals, 156 of them for valor, and 48 Army Commendation Medals for valor.

709 Air Medals for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight, including 61 awards to recognize single acts of heroism.

10 Soldier’s Medals for non-combat heroism involving the voluntary risk of life.

26 Distinguished Service Medals for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility, the highest award for service given by the Army and the Air Force, and 224 Legions of Merit, the next highest award for service.

26 achieved General Officer rank, including 2 four-stars, one of whom was Army Chief of Staff and another a Commander in Chief.

They commanded an estimated 900 company-level units, 116 battalions, 41 brigades, and five Army divisions. Their General Officers commanded 27 times.

362 served until retiring, including 52 from the Reserve Component and 17 who were retired for disability.

They earned 487 post-graduate degrees, including 13 Doctor of Medicine degrees and 61 other doctorates.

Beyond their active duty contributions, the ranks of this class include 300 company presidents and vice-presidents , ten clergy, and a federal judge.

They raised $100,000 among themselves when they were least wealthy and distributed it to the widows of their fallen classmates to help with the education of their children. Collectively, they have donated over $13,000,000 to their Alma Mater.

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