The theme of this year's Association of Graduates Alumni Leaders Conference, held August 11-14 at West Point, was “Engaging Every Heart in Gray.” Communications is always an area of emphasis at these conferences, which are sponsored by the Class of 1967, but this year's was particularly focused on reaching out to the full spectrum of graduates.
Generational differences and social media were addressed early in the conference, and these two subjects tended to be woven throughout the rest of the conference. Prof. Michael Meeks of San Francisco State University pointed to studies that show attitude differences between generations and how leadership and work ethic differ between generations.
While the basic premise of Dr. Meeks' presentation was hardly new, it took on an added dimension when coupled with the ongoing social media revolution resulting from the use of personal computers and smart phone communications. LTC Brian Tribus '92, West Point Director of Communications, made it clear that cadets take full advantage of this new technology.
I suspect that many of us who graduated before 1990, and even some after, find the social media revolution a bit foreign, if not uncomfortable. An insightful observation by Dr. Meeks, which has also been observed by our Commander in Chief, is that technology can interfere with our ability to focus on things that really matter, and “make us stupid.” Old grads, especially, seemed to like hearing this.
Our lunch speakers also addressed communications and social media. COL MaryAnn Cummings '82, Commander, Defense Media Activity – Army, talked about engaging soldiers and their families through media on Thursday. Friday's lunch speaker, LTC Pete Kilner '90 shared his experiences in using social media to begin an online leadership forum for company commanders and platoon leaders while in-theater. This exchange of “best practices” in real time allowed the immediate application of shared knowledge and techniques in the field, saving lives.
The Commandant, BG Bill Rapp '84, discussed the state of military training for the Corps of Cadet and introduced a panel of officers from the Tactical Department. The Dean, COL(P) Tim Trainor '83, discussed the upcoming academic year and introduced a panel of academic department heads. Both panels fielded questions from the conference attendees.
The Chairman of the AOG Board of Directors, Jodie Glore '69, and AOG Executive Director Bob McClure '76 were present throughout the conference. Chairman Glore pointed out that this was the first Leader's Conference at which the entire membership of the Board of Directors and all Class and Regional Society Advisors were present.
Fundraising for West Point and the AOG was not ignored. West Point Director of Academy Advancement, COL Todd Browne '85 and AOG Vice President of Development, Kristin Sorenson, discussed the ongoing “For Us All” campaign that sets specific fundraising goals for West Point and the AOG.
It was interesting to learn that the AOG is the only organization authorized to raise funds for USMA, and in this regard its role is different than alumni organizations of the other service academies. AOG Executive Director, Bob McClure '76, noted that steps had been taken to prevent the reduction of federal dollars as fundraising increased. AOG Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jodie Glore '69, pointed out that the types of activities for which most donated funds are used are not part of the budget that is federally funded.
The most spirited discussion of the conference occurred while discussing admission. The Director of Admissions, COL Deborah McDonald, presented the Academy‟s program for recruiting the best candidates for West Point. It was observed that the country is experiencing a crisis in regard to education for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), but COL McDonald assured us that this was not causing a problem in recruiting and getting qualified candidates. A conference attendee asked that if standards were being lowered to meet recruiting goals, and COL McDonald said that they were not. However, she also noted that there was a sliding scale when it comes to meeting diversity goals.
We then broke out into recruiting regions. MAJ Mark R. McClellan is the Commander for the Southwest Region in which Colorado is located.
With the draw down in the Military Academy Liaison Officer (MALO) program, more is being ask of grads and societies to provide volunteers in recruiting for USMA. He can be reached at 845-938-5717 or Mark.McClellan@usma.edu.
The Superintendent, LTG David Huntoon '73, was the guest speaker at the Alumni Leaders Dinner Friday evening. While LTG Huntoon had only been in his position for three weeks, he shared his experience with New Cadets during the Cadet Basic Training March Back from Lake Frederick on 7 August. Many of you have already viewed the FOX News Channel's interview with LTG Huntoon that appeared on 13 August. In case you did not, or would like to see it again, here's the link: http://video.foxnews.com/v/4310317/exclusive-new-superintendent-of-west-point/?playlist_id=86856
The Acceptance Day Parade on Saturday was a highlight of the conference, as usual. But for me, personally, the Colorado Parents Club Picnic after the parade was especially enjoyable. It was an opportunity to speak with many cadets and their parents.
Board member, Bob Walcott '78, was at the picnic, as was his son, Alex, who is a Firstie.
Past board members, WPSD life member, and past-president of the Colorado Parents Club, Jerry Miller'73 and his wife Claire attended as well. Now living in Highland Falls, they continue to support Colorado organizations. On behalf of the Society, my thanks go to Jerry and Claire for graciously providing their home as a place to stay, and once again making the Alumni Leaders Conference a most enjoyable experience.
You can go to the following web site: www.westpointaog.org/netcommunity/leadersconferencepresentations to view the slides for the conference presentations.
By Sam Thiessen
Colorado Parent's Club
By Bob Walcott '78
The West Point Parent‟s Club of Colorado (WPPCCO) hosted its Annual Send Off of the Class of 2014. More than a dozen Colorado Cadet Candidates and their families attended a lunch meeting at the Wings Over The Rockies Aerospace Museum at Lowery on 13 June. In addition to parental advice from battle hardened upper class parents, the new West Point families were treated to inspirational remarks from BG(Ret) Anthony Trifiletti '64, marking the first time a member of the 50 Year Class has attended our Colorado Send Off. Also addressing the group was Steve Shambach '74, President of the Pikes Peak WPS, representing the AOG and LTC Monrad Monsen (USAR) '84, Colorado State Admissions Coordinator. In a break out session, several cadets home on leave relayed the ground truth about R Day and Beast Barracks to our new candidates.
Kerry Bleikamp (Kyle '13), WPPCCO Vice President, hosted our Surviving Beast meeting on 10 July at the Clement Park Library in Littleton, attended by seven New Cadet families and an equal number of upper class families. Two upper class cadets were also present, to shed some light on the mysteries of Beast Barracks to the New Cadet parents. Additionally WPPCCO‟s Summer Social was enjoyed by over 30 members on 7 August, at Cindy and Tom Hodel‟s (Marc'10) residence in Lakewood.
On 14 August WPPCCO organized an Acceptance Day Picnic on the banks of the Hudson near South Dock. Seven newly promoted Plebes and their families attended the event, along with Denver Society President Sam Thiessen '73 and Jerry Miller '73, both of whom got up at O-Dark-30 the day before to reserve our prime location.
Upcoming WPPCCO events include a Boodle Exchange hosted by Laurie Walcott (Alex '11) on 25 September and a Surviving Graduation Briefing & Discussion hosted by Cindy and Tom Hodel (Marc ‘10) of Lakewood in October. Finally, Upcoming WPPCCO events include a Boodle Exchange hosted by Laurie Walcott (Alex '11) on 25 September and a Surviving Graduation Briefing & Discussion hosted by Cindy and Tom Hodel (Marc '10) of Lakewood in October. Finally, WPPCCO‟s signature event of the year, the Annual Colorado All Service Academy Ball, is scheduled for Monday, 27 December at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. WPPCCO is hosting this year, so we are assured of a West Point grad as guest speaker.
By Dave Jackson '73
If you‟re the on-line kind of person, then Join us on Facebook.com. Search “West Point Denver” & find our group page. Then Join! It will bring events, info, & society news right to your Facebook homepage and it is open to everyone.
Also on-line, for current Dues paying members of the WPSD, we‟ve got some Google Docs available for you. Currently, we've got society rosters, by class & by name. More to follow (suggestions welcome). To access the Google Docs, you‟ll need a gmail account (free). Link your normal e-mail address to it under settings. We're controlling access via your WPSD on-file e-mail address.
From the Pres.
From the Board
WP Current events
A feedback & comment blog
Questions, comments, suggestions about our on-line presence, contact me: Dave Jackson email@example.com
Army vs. Air Force Watch Party
Join us to watch Army defeat Air Force on 6 November at the Fox and Hound at Park Meadows. We will begin tailgaiting at 11 with kickoff at noon. Drink specials and buffet will be available.
Congressional Military Admissions Panel
Bruce Miller '63
WPSD wants to increase participation of West Point Graduates on Senatorial and House academy nominating panels. Send an email, if you have not already done so, to Bruce Miller '63 at firstname.lastname@example.org. Clearly state if you have served or if you have already been notified that you are going serve on a panel this fall. Identify the congress member or senator. Panels are normally conducted on weekends before Thanksgiving and include candidates for all service academies except USCG. Make sure to state if you are willing to serve on panels outside Denver in places like Grand Junction, Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Durango.
The purpose of the BizNet is to support the personal and professional goals of graduates of all the Service Academies through networking, job assistance, advice, and contacts.
The group meets at 7 am every Tuesday morning at the Denver Tech Center Marriott Hotel, (Belleview and Syracuse - take the Belleview exit off I-25). The group welcomes all Academy Grads. www.academybiznet.org
Academy Golf Victory!
Congratulations goes to Matt White, Bill Sumner, Joel Martin, and Pete Mangold for taking first place for the third consecutive year at the annual All Academy Golf Tournament.
Joel Martin '02
Bob Walcott '78
A final total of 21 Colorado Cadet Candidates reported to R Day on 28 June, joining approximately 1300 other candidates to form the Class of 2014. The Colorado Admissions Field Force is now fully focused on the Class of 2015, with 108 open application files in the four congressional district (1st, 2nd, 6th & 7th) Denver metro area. Colorado Congressional and Senatorial nomination application deadlines all fall between mid-September and early November, so encourage candidates you may know to get that completed. The fall is also prime time for the Admissions Field Force to conduct candidate interviews. The Admissions Committee back at USMA will begin reviewing completed files and making offers of Appointment in October.
Hails and Farewells
We currently have 914 members in the area.
210 are Dues paying members
48 are Lifetime members
50 are Honorary members (widows)
David Thompson 74 VA
Mark Johnson 85 PA
David Barnes 90 VT
Jon Kluck 00 PA
Travis Cole 02 GA
Levin Dyer 85 AR
Francis Weiss 73 TX
Arthur Lozano 45
Gerald Wojciehoski 47
Ken Dolson 62
Richard Sklar 62
Charles Harris 66
Bruce Brown 68
John Hightower 77
Brian Hughes 77
Gerald Nelson 77
Eugene Wardynski 80
Joseph Verser 83
Randy Dasalla 84
Scott Field 88
Jeff Kimes 88
Tom Lavelle, Jr 88
Bret Garrett 89
Michael Jackson 90
Johannes Paraan 91
Ton Prescott 91
Andrew Ulrich 91
Jim Forbes 92
John Bittner 93
Luke Dodds 93
Laura Knapp 94
Jason Padilla 94
Jeannine Koehler 95
John Koeler 95
Scott Spurrier 98
David Allen 99
Jack Emmons 00
Richard Hartney III 00
Ryan Taylor 00
Mark McNamara 01
Crosby Toyama 01
Christian Walker 01
Todd Smutz 02
Board of Directors
West Point Society of Denver
Serve To 2011 Serve To 2012 Serve To 2013
Lou Schroeder '59 Lindy Blackburn '69 Sam Thiessen '73
Bruce Miller '63 Dave Jackson '73 John Greiman '81
Robby Robinson '68 Steve Best '76 Dan Young '94
Chris Petty''87 Bob Walcott '78 Amy Efaw '89
Joel Martin '02 Mary St. Onge '02 Mike Lewis '90
President Sam Thiessen
Vice President Lindy Blackburn
Secretary Mary St. Onge
Treasurer Dave Jackson
Chuck Jones ‟68 Ex-Officio Immediate Past-President
Special October Event!
The WPSD program for the fourth quarter of 2010 will be an Art Exhibit and Book Signing at Saks Galleries - Cherry Creek, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, October 20th. Tom Petrie '67 will be featuring his military art collection, and Rich Adams '67 will present his new book, The Parting: A Story of West Point on the Eve of the Civil War. Tom has an outstanding collection of Nineteenth Century Military and Western American subjects. If you have seen his collection, which was featured at the Denver Art Museum in 2002 as part of the West Point Bicentennial Celebration, you know it's well worth viewing again. If you haven't seen it, I can say from experience that you will find the works more than interesting. Rich's new book looks to be a naturally good read for West Point grads, as you can tell from the title alone. Rich will be giving an introduction to his latest work and answering questions, with books available onsite. A short description of the book is below.
It is July 18, 1861 near Winchester, Virginia. The Civil War has begun, and Confederate Lieutenant John Pelham, formerly of the West Point Class of 1861, is about to confront his former classmates and best friends at the First Battle of Bull Run.
The confident Pelham bears little resemblance to the seventeen-year-old who journeyed alone five years earlier from Jacksonville, Alabama, to West Point, New York, to enter the United States Military Academy. As the class begins its final year, Pelham meets Clara Bolton, a Philadelphian belle who captures his heart. In the months that follow, Pelham, Clara, and the Class of 1861 witness the unraveling of the Union and the birth of the Confederacy against the political backdrop of slavery and states' rights, the Democratic and Republican Parties, the fire-eaters of the South, and the abolitionists of the North.
The book's cover artwork is adapted from the painting Encampment on the Plain, by William Guy Wall, 1862, courtesy of the personal art collection of Thomas Petrie (West Point Class of 1967). Superimposed on the painting are cameo photographs of John Pelham and Edmond (Ned) Kirby, West Point classmates and best friends.
To a very great extent, The Parting authentically defines the Victorian world of West Point and embodies characters who are real and whose personalities and relationships are based on non-fictional sources. The principal protagonist, John Pelham, one of Alabama's most lauded sons, is the most popular man in his class, though not much inclined to follow Academy rules. Other cadet characters include Edmond Kirby (New York), Henry du Pont (Delaware), Thomas Rosser (Texas), George Custer (Ohio), Adelbert Ames (Maine), Nathaniel Chambliss (Tennessee), Charles Patterson (Arkansas), Henry Walter Kingsbury (Connecticut), Emory Upton (New York), Charles Hazlett (Ohio), Patrick O'Rorke (New York), Charles Ball (Alabama), and Henry Farley (South Carolina).
Woven into the story are the Academy's military and academic leadership, Jefferson Davis's ties to West Point, the venerable General Winfield Scott, the first-ever visit to North America by British Royalty culminating in an appearance at West Point, and the legendary tavern keeper and thorn in the Academy's side, Benny Havens.