Vital Signs

The Service Academy Dudes

Among the many things I remember is how nice the "digs" were: we were on the second floor of a well-appointed office building in the South Park area of Charlotte—a tony, upscale area with a beautiful, expansive shopping center, numerous boutiques, top-flight restaurants, coffeehouses before coffeehouses became chic. You get the idea: the high rent district.

A local real estate mogul had donated his offices for this third Saturday in January to our local congressman. The congressman had, in turn, enlisted the support of 15 or so of us to interview prospective candidates for the service academies. One panel of seven of us was to interview young men and women who wanted to attend West Point and Colorado Springs; the other group dealt with the Naval, Merchant Marine, and Coast Guard academies.

A young congressional aide met us and handed out packets which contained summaries of each candidate's accomplishments (high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, various awards, the usual stuff) and a list of questions we might want to ask the candidates should we find ourselves at a loss for words. As a graduate of West Point, I wondered why I or any of the other panel members would need this list of questions. It became clear to me later when I learned that, of the seven men and women on the Army/Air Force panel, I was the only academy graduate; for the Navy/Merchant Marine/Coast Guard panel, there were...

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