Cow Year: 1967-1968
Two stripes on coat sleeves and grey USMA shield on epaulets
Being the Cow year (junior year) was a significant milestone, inasmuch as one could no longer quit the academy without incurring a military obligation. By the junior year the US Government had invested a lot of money in our training and could not let someone leave without consequence. I do not know what the military obligation possibilities were. I do know that after graduation, I would incur a five year active duty obligation. I would also be appointed as a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army.
Upon my return to West Point control, I spent a month with the 4th Battalion, 10th Infantry at Fort William B. Davis, Canal Zone. This was located on the east side of Panama. My role was to act as a Second Lieutenant. My lieutenant mentor, whose name I forget, was sent to Viet Nam and was later reported killed on the outside of a letter I had sent to him. It was my first somewhat intimate exposure to someone being killed in Viet Nam.
I then spent a week in Brazil as part of a cadet exchange program. Myself and a cadet contemporary Michael Hagan were chosen for the exchange for our standing in the Portuguese language classes. We spent time in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, and at the Escola de las Aguilios Negros (School of the Black Rocks) the Brazilian equivalent to USMA.
At the start of the academic year, new companies were formed because of the increasing size of the Corps. The roommates that I had had during my first two years at West Point were switched to one of the new companies, D-1. From then on, roommates changed periodically, and I lost close contact with Rick and Tom. See Appendix 5 for a listing of classmates that from Co. B-1 in the fall of 1965 through graduation in June 1969.
My academic curriculum for Second Class year 1967-1968:
- Organic Chemistry I & II
- Electricity (which cadets called “juice”)
- Military Instruction
- Physical Education
- Social Studies
At the end of the academic year, I remained on the Dean’s List and my cumulative class rank had improved to 51 of 816 and the class year rank was 30 of 816. Note that 62 cadets had dropped out of our class since the year before. I did end up being in the top quarter of the class in military aptitude. Of significance, my academic performance permitted me to attach a star to the collars of my dress grey coat and full dress grey coat, indicating that I was in the top 5 percent of the class. We were referred to as “star men.” I wore insignia during my First Class year.
During Cow year, cadets were usually assigned to be squad leaders, positions that rotated three times during the academic year. I was selected to be the guidon bearer for Co. B-1. My role was to carry the company flag, standing and marching next to the company commander. It was a high privilege to have that position, and the guidon bearer was usually the company commander for a portion of the Firsty year.
For about three months, I was a squad leader and mostly supervised the Plebes. I do not think I was similar to my first squad leader that I had as a Plebe named Kenneth Carter, but some of the Class of 1972 might disagree. My rank was a cadet corporal and I could wear a two-striped chevron on the lower sleeves of my various coats. A picture of my dress grey coat shown below locates the position of the chevrons.
Five hundredth night was held in recognition of 500 nights until graduation of the Class of 1969. This was held on January 27, 1968. I do not think that Kendra attended the celebration.
During Cow year, I was an equipment manager for the annual Goat vs. Engineer football game. This was a game between low academic performers or Goats versus Engineers or high academic performers.
Parades were usually held on the ‘Plain’ near Trophy Point. We often prayed to Odin that the parade would be cancelled due to rain. Mostly we were unsuccessful in our desire. The uniform was usually a full dress grey jacket with white or grey trousers depending on the time of year. The average cadet wore cross belts like those noted above that attached to a fake bullet box at the rear of the coat. There was a white belt with brass buckle that fastened in front. We carried M-14 rifles with a chrome plated bayonet attached to the end of the rifle barrel. We wore short white gloves. The parade hat or tar bucket had different plumes depending on class year. Sometimes the units were massed as battalions or separated out by individual companies. Fall and graduation were the prime time for parades.
It was a rare occurrence to have protestors in the area during parades, and they certainly never interfered with the parade marches. I do recall seeing a few protest signs from my barracks window.
Sometime during Cow year, I began to think whether I would need a career change from the expected combat arms to some other career. There did not seem to be much call for a combat arms officer following completion of my obligation. I began to more seriously entertain the possibility of a medical career. This seemed a little short of heresy for a military cadet at the time, so I kept it largely to myself.