Retirement of General scaparrotti. United States military Class of 1978. Last active member of that class

This post was written by a classmate of mine at West Point about another classmate of mine at West Point.. Thank you for this post.

As we gathered at the bar, we were older, heavier and grayer than in June of 1978 when we graduated from West Point. We’d come together to honor our classmate, General (4 stars) Curtis Michael “Scap” Scaparrotti, who was retiring after 41 years of service. Scap was the last member of our class to serve on active duty in the Army.

Scap had recently relinquished his job as the The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Since the start of NATO in the 1950s, there have been 18 commanders, including Eisenhower and Ridgeway. Not bad company.

There were 30 or 40 of us at the get-together and it was great to catch up. There were war stories (literally), news about kids and grandkids, jokes about old times, cancer updates, discussions of business possibilities, and any number of other topics. In addition to local DC folk, guys arrived from Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, New York and Colorado among other places. One classmate was departing for Afghanistan the next day (as a civilian). At one point, Scap shared a few thoughts with us, and spoke about the importance of our class to him over the course of his career. As I looked around the room, I thought about the story of our class since graduation.

981 of us graduated from the Academy in 1978. Some stayed in the military 5 or 10 years, while others retired at 20 or 30 years. We were Cold Warriors at the start, but then, among other places, fought in Somalia, Granada, Panama, the First Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terror. There were Peace keeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. We held assignments taking us to at least 6 of the 7 continents in this world. Some of us worked missions we still aren’t allowed to talk about.

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Our class produced 33 General Officers, 21 Civilian equivalents (SES level), and 1 General Officer in a foreign army (the Philippines). We count a Secretary of the Army and President’s Physician in our class. We have politicians, judges, lawyers, scientists, engineers, doctors, dentists, government employees, school teachers, and school superintendents among us. There are any number of captains of industry, including CEOs and Board Members of Fortune 500 firms, along with owners, managers, and CXOs of many, many other companies.

54 of us have passed away.

We are now in our 60s. With Scap’s military retirement, one phase of our class’s contribution to society is officially over. Some of us have retired and are playing with our grandchildren. Some are still actively working, in government, or in the business world. Others are starting totally new business ventures, or personal adventures, seeking the next big thing, or new ways to have an impact on our country and the world.

Many of you have watched the Army Navy Football game over the years, and observed the tradition that whoever wins the game, gets to sing their Alma Mater second. The third verse of the West Point Alma Mater is:

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And when our work is done,
Our course on earth is run,
May it be said, ‘Well Done;
Be Thou At Peace.’
E’er may that line of gray
Increase from day to day,
Live, serve, and die, we pray,
West Point, for thee.

I’d like to think our class has earned a “well done” to date, but I also know we will continue to have influences, large and small, on this great country of ours. I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to be a member of the Proud and Great West Point class of 1978.

Go Army! Beat Navy!

Be aware and take care

UNR students held at gunpoint, beaten in armed robbery near campus

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.
Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

by Ben Margiott

Wednesday, October 10th 2018

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

by Ben Margiott

Wednesday, October 10th 2018

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

by Ben Margiott

Wednesday, October 10th 2018

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.

Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.
RENO, Nev. (News 4 & Fox 11) — Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.
Two UNR students were held at gunpoint and beaten in an armed robbery early Saturday morning, one in a series of armed robberies near campus over the weekend, according to the Reno Police Department.
Around 2:00 a.m. Saturday, Turner Gustafson and his friend were walking back to their car on Nevada Street after attending a pancake fundraiser hosted by Tri Delta, a UNR sorority.They were just getting into the car when someone stuck their arm in the door to prevent it from closing and said “Get out of the car and give me everything in your pocket.”

Gustafson said one of the suspects held his friend at gunpoint, while another pulled him out of the car and started beating him. A third suspect started stealing their wallets, phones, keys and other items in the glove box.”We were scared for our lives. We were so afraid.”

“It just happened that quickly where you couldn’t even say anything or do anything. To where you were just helpless,” Gustafson said.The robbery lasted just a few minutes, after which the suspects returned to their car and drove off.Gustafson said he was taken to the hospital, having suffered a concussion, bruised ribs and cuts on his face. His friend, who was held at gunpoint, was not hurt.While his physical wounds are now healing, Gustafson said he now experiences anxiety anytime he’s out late at night.He said that before this incident, he never thought something like this could happen in Reno. Now, he’s urging everyone to be aware of their surroundings at all times.”Travel in groups — more than two of you. Preferably four. Never by yourself, especially girls. Never by yourself … be on the lookout,” Gustafson said.RPD Officer Travis Warren said they don’t have any suspect information at this time. If you have any details that can help investigators, you’re asked to call Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900.
In an automated message sent to students on Wednesday, UNR’s police services offered the following tips:Make personal safety your number one priority. Awareness, Avoidance and Risk Reduction are the best ways to not be a victim.Be alert! Look around you; be aware of who is on the street and in the area. Make it difficult for anyone to take you by surprise. Look and walk with a confident stride with your head up.Keep your distance from anyone who triggers a suspicion in your mind. Make eye contact with people you encounter. This shows self-confidence and may deter a potential attack.Stay alert to your surroundings when walking at night. Walk briskly to your destination.Travel in groups of two or more and always travel in well-lit, heavily traveled areas.Carry a whistle or noise maker. This can serve as a reminder to exercise caution, and can alert someone in the area that you need help.If listening to music, keep the volume low so you can hear what is going on around you. Don’t talk on your cell phone or listen to music when you are in an unfamiliar area. This can be a distraction and can make you vulnerable.When walking, stay in public areas that are well lit and populated.Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.If you know you are going to be working late, plan ahead as to how you will get to your vehicle or home safely.Keep your hands free. Limit the number of items you’re carrying or use a backpack or bag to ensure that your hands are free in order to defend yourself if needed.Use university services such as Campus Escort or University Police Cadets to get you to your vehicle safely. The Campus Escort Van operates 7 days a week from 7:00 PM – 1:00 AM during academic semesters.Regularly change your routine.Develop a survival mind set. While you’re in a safe place, visualize a dangerous situation and what you would do if confronted. This may be unpleasant, however it is a good idea to prepare yourself if you were ever attacked, so you don’t freeze with fear if something ever was to happen.If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, don’t worry about hurting the person’s feelings, just leave.Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your feelings and do what you need to do to be safe.Download the Safe Pack

Ground Combat not for this fate of heart. Need for strength no shortcuts

We want to make sure that our soldiers are … in top physical shape to withstand the rigors of ground combat,” he said.

Milley added that there was “nothing like” ground combat.

“Combat is not for the faint of heart, it’s not for the weak-kneed, it’s not for those who are not psychologically resilient and tough and hardened to the brutality, to the viciousness of it. We’ve got to get this Army hard, and we’ve got to get it hard fast.”

Warrior leaders days gone past

The spirit of the bayonet is to kill
“Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow!”

So chant the new cadets as they go through the thrusting motions of bayonet training.

They have forsaken cadet gray for the Army green of combat soldiers. They wear green fatigues, black combat boots, steel pot helmets, and web belts, the uniform of the Vietnam era. It will be another year before West Point transitions to the looser fitting camouflage BDUs. They carry M16s, the GI rifle of the Vietnam era which is still used today. It comes equipped with bayonets. Who knew?

Bayonet training conjures up images from the Civil War or All Quiet on the Western Front, where soldiers engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the muddy trenches of Western Europe during the war to end all wars. How could bayonets possibly have a place in late 20th century warfare?

There were no indications that these cadets found bayonet training in anyway anachronistic. Or grisly. They were new cadets. They did what they were told, marched to whichever training they were told to march to, and accomplished the mission. They might make a lot of mistakes, but not because they were recalcitrant or rebellious. These new cadets were gung ho, motivated, overachieving. They wanted to serve their country. If West Point thought they needed to have bayonet training, well, then they needed to have bayonet training.

“The spirit of the bayonet is to kill!”

They actually had to say this, and say it they did. Loudly and enthusiastically. Clearly, the bayonet, if it ever had to be used, would be the last weapon of choice. You would have to be in a really dire situation to have to resort to using a bayonet. It meant you were out of ammunition and your rifle was a useless stick of steel. It meant that the enemy had overrun your position and was now standing over you. Of course, it kind of implied that your enemy must be out of ammunition, too, and had no backup or artillery fire coming in, or else why wouldn’t they just shoot you and be done with it? Oh, sure, there were probably a whole variety of Hollywood war movie scenarios you could come up with which might convey situations where you might have to use a bayonet. Frankly, having the presence of mind to even stick your bayonet onto the end of your weapon at the time of need worried me more. I had been toting my M16 around for weeks and hadn’t even realized that it harbored a bayonet.

I don’t think the point of bayonet training (excuse the pun) was to prepare us for hand-to-hand combat of last resort. I think it was an exercise, to try to instill within us the spirit of the warrior. To make us more assertive, more aggressive, more passionate. Combat was a serious business and we needed to take it seriously as future combat officers (not that women were allowed to serve in a “combat role,” but at least we would be trained that way at West Point).

If confronted head on by an enemy soldier whose clear intent was to kill me if I did not kill him first, I would kill him. Or die trying. I had little doubt of that. Not that I seriously contemplated it as I stood there in formation thrusting and parrying with air.

If this interaction were to happen today and somehow involve my protecting my children – and I can’t imagine how it would – I would kill him in a heartbeat, with no afterthought or remorse.

For bayonet training, we had marched down to Target Hill Field, which was down below Ike Hall, along the river, near the Two Mile Run Course and the sewage treatment plant. I am sure we conducted bayonet training out of the immediate view of tourists to West Point for PC reasons, not that “PC” was even a term then. The Vietnam War had not ended all that long ago really, and West Point did not wish to convey to the public that we were baby killers.

How ironic then that while we were going through the motions of bayonet training in the hot July sun, from somewhere a class of preschoolers had materialized and were hanging on the chain link fence watching us, goggle-eyed. I was horrified. What kind of teacher or day care worker would allow three and four year olds to observe this kind of violent training? Here we were chanting “Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow!” and stabbing the air with our bayonets while small children looked on. I found it immensely disturbing but kept thrusting and shouting as I had been instructed.

To me, although what we were doing was infinitely serious, it was also a game of sorts. I could play the game, I could go through the motions and go through them passionately. I was determined to handle whatever West Point and the cadet cadre could throw at me, no matter how ridiculous or disturbing it might be. Beast was supposed to be an intense, highly stressful baptism of fire that would transform us from civilians into soldiers and West Point cadets in six or seven short, but, oh, so long, weeks. At the end of Beast, I would be a better person. I would be a real cadet.

As I kept thrusting my bayonet forward and to the side and upwards and downwards, shouting epithets of blood and violence all the while, I was getting rid of pent up energy and frustration, but I was not truly imagining myself stabbing someone through the gut with my pointed spear of steel. If I ever had to do it, I was sure that I would rise to the occasion, but I didn’t want to have to think about it. Having those little kids standing there made me have to think about it, even if only for a few moments.

During our time as cadets, we would be taught how to kill: how to fire M16s, shoot just about every weapon system in the U.S. inventory, throw hand grenades, and call for fire. We would be taught about war, both in philosophy where we would discuss “just” and “unjust” wars and in military art where we would study warfare throughout the ages, but I don’t remember ever having any training or serious discussion about violence and killing. Perhaps “real men” don’t talk about such things.

To say that West Point produces trained killers would be a gross misrepresentation. West Point does strive to train and prepare cadets for the rigors of combat. It does not do so because Army leaders should be bloodthirsty, crave violence, and enjoy killing people. Rather, it does so because its mission is to produce professional military officers trained to lead soldiers anywhere, and in combat, if need be.

To lead soldiers in combat, future officers need to learn the basic skills of the trade, which include mastering the use of basic weapons systems, tactics, map reading, and land navigation. Officers need to be tactically and technically proficient. Their job then becomes to ensure that their soldiers are well-trained, fit, and ready for battle – or whatever mission they might encounter.

Mature and professional soldiers do not want war. They do not want to kill people. They are trained to accomplish combat missions, which includes engaging hostile enemies with weapons. Thus, they want to be as good at their jobs as they can possibly be, so they can accomplish the mission as quickly as possible, with as few casualties as possible, especially to their own comrades.

Soldiers are realists. They see war as an inevitable evil that occurs when men run out of diplomatic and other options. It is not the soldier’s job to make policy. It is the soldier’s job to follow orders, to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Soldiers can only hope and pray that those policy decisions are just and sound.

I have never met any soldier who wanted to go to war. I would be very worried indeed if I did.

If our soldiers go to war, then I want them to be well-trained, well-equipped, and well-led. Because well-trained, well-equipped, and well-led soldiers have a much greater chance of accomplishing the mission and surviving than those who are not. War is never an ideal situation; it is a terrible, awful, horrible thing. And it always involves death and destruction.

It was William Tecumseh Sherman, who led the Union Army’s infamous March to the Sea during the Civil War, who said: “There is many a boy who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.”

Not everyone is qualified

Why No Transgender in the Military?

Trey Gowdy just said a few things about the military in response to a stupid question from a CNN reporter about the ban of transgender. He nails it!

Nobody has a “right” to serve in the Military. Nobody. What makes people think the Military is an equal opportunity employer? Very far from it.

The Military uses prejudice regularly and consistently to deny citizens from joining for being too old or too young, too fat or too skinny, too stupid, too tall or too short. Citizens are denied for having flat feet, or for missing or additional fingers. Poor eyesight will disqualify you, as well as bad teeth. Malnourished? Drug addiction? Bad back? Criminal history? Low IQ? Anxiety? Phobias? Hearing damage? Six arms? Hear voices in your head? Self-identify as a Unicorn?

Need a special access ramp for your wheelchair? Can’t run the required course in the required time? Can’t do the required number of pushups? Not really a “morning person” and refuse to get out of bed before noon? All can be reasons for denial.

The Military has one job. War! The Military has one job. Anything else is a distraction and a liability. Did someone just scream “That isn’t Fair”? War is VERY unfair, there are no exceptions made for being special or challenged or socially wonderful.

YOU change yourself to meet Military standards. Not the other way around. I say again: You don’t change the Military…you must change yourself. The Military doesn’t need to accommodate anyone with special issues. The Military prides itself on WINNING WARS.

If any of your personal issues are a liability that detract from readiness or lethality… Thank you for applying and good luck in future endeavors.

OK. Who’s next in line?