President's Corner By Sam Thiessen '73
The beginning of 2011 has been somewhat of an emotional roller coaster ride, at least as I see it. As "military types," we're not (or were not) supposed to talk about our emotions. But that's going to be the topic of my message here. The end of 2010 was a happy time for most of us, as it usually is with the Holidays and all, even with the continuing economic recession. We soon found the relative calm of the Season shattered with the news of fellow graduate, John "Jack" Wheeler '66. He was murdered in Delaware, with his body found in a landfill the morning of December 30th. I knew Jack Wheeler, having met him when I was stationed in the D.C. area in the mid-1980s. Though I could not say we were close, I think most people who knew Jack would like to say they were his friend. As his classmate, retired Major General Bob Scales, said, Jack was a very empathetic person, and that he was. Jack made whoever he was around feel like their view was worth listening to. And in my experience, he always recognized the dignity of all, and especially the least among us. That being said, I can't say that I always agreed with Jack Wheeler. This is not something particularly remarkable, and others certainly disagreed with him as well. Older grads will recall the controversy surrounding the building of the Vietnam War Memorial. Jack was the chief fundraiser for the project, and as such he fell under criticism as the selected design of the memorial came to be described as "a gash in the
ground." I recall some describing it as an "ugly" gash. While my own opinion was reserved on the matter, I tended to think that a more traditional design was in order. At this point, however, I think that most who have been to the Vietnam War Memorial would agree that it is the right design; giving total respect to those who gave their all in the conflict, while capturing an element of the confusion in this country that accompanied the war. Perhaps as a gesture to the traditional inclinations of myself and others, human figures were later added to the memorial. I would have settled for "the gash," but think the figures enhance it. Speaking of confusion, when 2011 was barely a week old, another terrible event: the mass shooting in Tucson at the constituent event held by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The representative survived the attack, though gravely injured. Unfortunately, six people were killed, and the Nation mourns the tragedy. I guess the point that I'm trying to make is one that is best left as simple emotion, and not too clearly drawn out by analysis. Doing so would necessarily require dividing up the issues, with which people would take sides. I don't think it's my role as president of the West Point Society of Denver to draw such distinctions. But I do think it's the president's role to recognize that these distinctions exist and, when appropriate, to provide the society membership broad, basic observations around which consensus, or disagreement, can develop. The role of West Point Societies in the Long Gray Line is "evolving," just as the role of West Point and all service academies is evolving in meeting the needs of our Nation's military. Whether we like it or not, things are always changing, even when they're not. Which is to say, if something is not changing, it will be left behind in the change that surrounds it. Hopefully, our good faith efforts to change, while keeping the good that already exists, will continue to guide us aright. In all likelihood, this will be my last President's Corner. By convention, the WPSD President serves for three years, and believe me, I'm all for it. As my predecessor, Chuck Jones '68, pointed out as he passed the baton to me in 2008, "By the time the third year comes around, you know what you're doing and (hopefully) doing it well. But you're also ready to move on." Well, I am. Having been at the head of a number of volunteer organizations, I can say that this one is as demanding as it gets. I do not regret it in the slightest, and, indeed, have found it to be most fulfilling - truly an honor and a pleasure to be the top representative of such a distinguished organization. As a Life Member of the West Point Society of Denver, I look forward to continuing to serve this organization and the Long Gray Line for, well, the rest of my life.
Just to let you know, I'm not giving up the presidency tomorrow. As it works, the Vice President is typically the "president-elect." Though this convention is not formalized in our by-laws, it serves us well that we abide by it without denying the flexibility to modify it in extraordinary cases. And just to let you know further, Vice President Lindy Blackburn '69, is someone you should look forward to as the next President of the WPSD. Per our by-laws, Lindy will be in all likelihood elected by the next duly elected board of the Society to this position. (He's definitely got my vote!) The next board is elected at our next Founders Day Dinner celebration - Saturday, 5 March 2011. The board votes for new officers at the first meeting following the FD Dinner, probably late-March or in April, and those elected assume their positions immediately. So, I started with emotion, and I'll end with it, recalling that "there's no crying in baseball." I used to think that about the military, when I was much younger. A good friend of mine, Rennie Cory, received the DSC for acts of valor while serving in the Korean War. For those who remember, he was part of Task Force Smith. I told him that I regretted having been commissioned in 1973, and not being involved in Vietnam. Rennie said, "No you don't." He assured me that there was a lot of crying in war. I think those who are sacrificing in the low-intensity, but lasting war we are currently fighting understand this, too. God Bless them all as they fight to protect the rest of us from a broader conflict.
By Dave Jackson '73
Founder‟s Day is quickly approaching on March 5th! If you were one of the lucky ones to join us last year then you know how great this event has become. We are back at the University Club this year and have an amazing evening planned. LTC Jim Bradford is our speaker, whose bio is attached. We hope that you can join us. Please visit our new and improved web page at www.denverwestpointer.org to register or return the attached form to Dave Jackson.
By Bob Walcott '78
The admissions year is quickly coming to a conclusion, with all congressional nominations in and candidates rushing to complete their files by the February 28th deadline. In the four congressional district Denver metro area, USMA currently has six acceptances and five additional offer pending for the class of 2015. Another 18 candidates have been categorized as “admissible”, with possible offers to follow. A total of 17 files have already been opened for Denver metro high schools juniors, looking to become part of the class of 2016.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2011 Summer Leadership Seminar. This program offers qualified incoming high school seniors (current juniors) an opportunity to spend a week experiencing cadet life at West Point. Each of two sessions, scheduled for 28 May- 3 June and 4-10 June 2011, will host 500 cadet candidates. This is the single best thing a candidate can do to figure out if West Point is a good fit for him or her. Applications can be found online, by clicking the “Summer Program” link on the admissions homepage (http://admissions.usma.edu). The deadline for applications is April 1st.
Dave Jackson has done a lot of work to improve our web page and presence on social media. We will continue to encourage everyone to please search for us on Facebook. 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.
Questions, comments, suggestions about our on-line presence, contact me: Dave Jackson firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Parent's Club By Bob Walcott '78
The Colorado All Service Academy Ball was held on December 27th at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. A total of 13 USMA cadets and their families, joined with cadets and midshipman from our sister academies, for a formal night of ceremony and celebration. MG Steve Best, USAR '76, and Denver Society Board Member, was the guest speaker. As always, our cadets won the unofficial march on competition.
Colorado West Point parents also gathered at the Walcott home (Alex '11) on December 11th for Army-Navy game festivities. Yellow napkins were issued to the parents, so they could flag penalties not observed by the game officials.
Next up is the Annual Planning Meeting and Social, hosted by our outgoing Presidents, Jerry and Robyn Dodson (Richard '12). Installation of the Club‟s new Presidents, Kurt and Kerry Bleikamp (Kyle '13), will take place in March.
Tri-Service Academy Alumni Golf
Mark your calendars for our annual Tri-Service Academy alumni golf tournament to be played on Monday, June 20th this year. We will post registration information on our web page in the near future. Anyone with questions may contact Joel Martin at email@example.com
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
Membership By Dave Jackson 73
As of December 2010, we have 920 graduates in the WPSD area. Of these, 46 are Lifetime Member and 89 are members with dues paid.
Consider paying your dues before March 2011! The savings you'll have when you attend the West Point Founder's Day celebration will almost cover the dues! Pay on-line via secure web (www.denverwestpointer.com , then click membership), or mail me a check. (tax deductable!)
Hails and Farewells
The Last quarter had quite a few movements in both categories. To save a tree, rather than list them all here, I'll request that you got to our newly designed website (same old URL: www.denverwestpointer.com ) and click on "announcements" in the page listing on the left. There, you'll find a monthly listing of all the H&F's. Check back each month to see each new post.
While you're there, take a look at the new Blogs we've started. (on the right column of the Home page). Sign up on those you're interested in & you'll receive an email for every new posting. Anyone interested in becoming a resident blogger on one of these, let Dave Jackson know (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Board of Directors
West Point Society of Denver
President Sam Thiessen
Vice President Lindy Blackburn
Secretary Mary St. Onge
Treasurer Dave Jackson
Chuck Jones '68 Ex-Officio Immediate Past-President
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