I married a goat. But Bob could have been a hive if he’d wanted to be but that’s another story.
Hugh Hewitt is blogging about the goats of West Point. I know something about that. My husband graduated very low in his class and was in competition with the actual goat for the dubious honor. And he was Captain of the goat football team. But being the class goat was a cool thing to aspire to be if one was down so many tenths ( you basically had to worry about your tenth bag) and had a daring nature. (and Bob does)
Class goats are big stars at West Point and it has been the tradition for each graduating cadet to give one dollar to the lowest ranking cadet…the class goat. The day my husband (Bob) graduated from West Point he gave a dollar to the class goat, Dave Burgett but Dave gave it back, telling him that he was his biggest competition. Bob said, “But, Dave, I wasn’t trying for the money.” Dave laughed and said, “Yeah, I know. That’s what worried me.”
Bob was in many classes with Dave and in one class they shared one day the instructor gave a test back to the class for review. The instructor was angry and proceeded to chastise Dave Burgett for only filling out part of the exam.
Evidently, Dave had calculated how much each question that he answered was worth in order to insure that he would make a grade necessary to keep him in the running for the money.
West Point goats (the lower twenty five percent in the ranks) are tough cadets who struggle to keep from flunking out or going to summer school. That struggle tends to make them strong and resilient. (although some do give up.) But the goats who tough it out through the hardships West Point dishes out to them endure.
Goats tend to develop gallows humor early on in their plebe days as a survival instinct. Bob’s ordinance engineering class was given a project to design the new weapon system for the prototype Bradley fighting vehicle. One of Bob’s classmates, Ed Ramey, chose the correct weapon system, a thirty milimeter automatic cannon but made a mistake in his calculations for the weight of it.
No matter how many times Ed put his numbers in the computer the answer he invariably got was less than one pound.
At the end of the program the active duty army engineer who was in charge of the Bradley project came to West Point to lecture about the problems of designing this type of weapon system.
Halfway through the lecture when the engineer was discussing the trade-off of weight to power problems Bob stood up and got the COL’s attention. When the startled engineer recognized him Bob proceeded to tell him of the phenomenal solution that one of the cadets had come up with.
He pointed to Ed Ramey and said “This man has developed a special thirty milimeter automatic cannon that can be carried easily by one man.” When the engineer asked, “Why is that?” Bob said, “Because it only weighs one pound.” At which time the lecture hall erupted in laughter. Bob then suggested that Ed be formally loaned to the project.
Later after Ramey held Bob out of the third floor barracks window for a while he calmed down and everyone had a good laugh. (Ed Ramey was the class heavy-weight boxing champ of West Point.)
Getting back to Bob’s worry about flunking out. He was so worried that he wouldn’t be able to graduate that he wouldn’t let me send out invitations to our wedding (which was to occur two weeks after his graduation) until the weekend he graduated.
He of course, did graduate but both my mother and mother-in-law were having nervous breakdowns.
Our son ranked higher in his class than my husband and I found out sometime after his graduation that he was actually driven to beat my husband’s class standing. He was also Captain of the goat football team. Still a goat.
There have been great leaders who were goats (or near goats) Besides Custer, and Pickett there was Ulysses S. Grant who graduated 21st (lower half) in a class of 39. Stonewall Jackson almost flunked out the first year but graduated 17th out of 59 in the class of 1846.
Jackson had a reputation at VMI of being a dull and uninspiring instructor. Although he had done fairly well in the Mexican War it was not enough to insure him a fast track career in the Army at that time. However, what was instilled in him in his first year at West Point and makes him an honorary member of the goat alumni is the lesson that all goats learn. This is to persevere.
The graduation of the last man of the class is an accomplishment which shows a dogged determination to overcome all obstacles to achieve a goal. The dollar given to this individual is a testimony to the courage and determination displayed by that cadet. This is the true definition of perseverance which is acknowledged by the CORPS.
Thanks for stopping by Hugh Hewitt visitors.
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