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African-American Woman Becomes First To Earn West Point’s Top Cadet Position
A 20-year-old native of Fairfax, Virginia, has just been selected to serve as the West Point Corps of Cadets’ brigade commander — or “first captain” — making her the first African-American woman to hold the highest student position in the United States Military Academy’s 215-year history, according to the Army.
Cadet Simone Askew assumed her duties as first captain for the 2017-2018 academic year on Aug. 14, making her accountable for the overall performance of the academy’s 4,400 cadets. In addition to setting the class agenda, Askew will act as a liaison between the Corps of Cadets and the school’s military administration.
“Simone truly exemplifies our values of Duty, Honor, Country,” Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gilland, commandant of cadets, said in a statement earlier this month. “I know Simone and the rest of our incredibly talented leaders within the Class of 2018 will provide exceptional leadership to the Corps of Cadets in the upcoming academic year.”
Founded in 1802, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point trains and educates students to become commissioned officers in the Army and has been the launching point for some of the most illustrious careers in military history.
As The New York Times notes, appointment to the first captain position is often a herald of future success. Former first captains include Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, who currently commands U.S. forces in South Korea, as well as Gen. John W. Nicholson, the senior American and NATO commander in Afghanistan.
Askew’s appointment to first captain is the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance, and leadership skills development. In high school, she helmed the volleyball team, served as the school president, and started the school’s Black Student Union. As The New York Times reports, she skipped her crowning as homecoming queen to attend a West Point recruiting event.
“Some cadets that are really high performing, they just go about their own business,” Col. Diane Ryan of the department of behavioral sciences and leadership at West Point told The New York Times. “[Askew] is just a leader in every sense of the word, figuring out how she can connect people together and serve others.”
Askew, an international history major, is now the fourth woman to earn the first captain position since 1976, when West Point first opened its doors to women; they now account for approximately 20% of cadets. That’s a relatively low number, given the fact that more women than men have been enrolling in colleges across the United States in recent years, according to the Boston Globe.
African-American women in particular are especially underrepresented at the academy — which, according to The New York Times, has yet to see more than 20 graduate in a single class. Pat Walter Locke, the first African-American woman to graduate from West Point, told The Times that she never thought she’d see a female first captain in her lifetime.
“Simone looks like America,” said Locke, who retired as an Army air defense artillery major in 1995. “Everybody can see themselves in Simone. This is such a historic moment.”
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by Martin Slagter, The Ann Arbor News, Mich.
YPSILANTI, MI - When a brigade of U.S. troops was ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army in the Song Tra Cau riverbed on the morning of May 15, 1967, Lt. Charles Kettles volunteered to lead the rescue, and he refused, again and again, to back down when faced with a barrage of gunfire.
His aircraft badly damaged, left spilling fuel, and his gunner was severely injured during the treacherous operation.
But he helicoptered in and out of the battlefield four times, saving the lives of 44 soldiers in a death-defying emergency operation that would become a legendary tale of bravery in the Vietnam War.
Nearly 50 years later, Kettles received the Medal of Honor on July 18, 2016.
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Coast Guard Commandant Blasts Government Shutdown That's Forced Service Members 'To Rely On Food Pantries And Donations'
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown "unacceptable" following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.
"We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden."