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Veteran recounts his fond memories of West Point

Robert Houk • Nov 12, 2019 at 9:25 AM

It was the principles and the heritage of West Point that drew Richard Heydt to this country’s oldest service academy.

The 1964 graduate of U.S. Military Academy said Monday his education at The Point has played “a very important part” in his life. The Northeastern Pennsylvania native lettered three years as a kicker on the Army football team.

“The bonds and brotherhood established nearly 60 years ago remain vital to me today,” Heydt told members of the East Tennessee Republican Club on Veterans Day.

He said one of the things that impressed him most about West Point was its honor code. No cadet is allowed to lie, cheat or steal, and no cadet is expected to tolerate a classmate who does.

Heydt said the Army service academy generally accepts a plebe class of 1,300 that will be whittled down to about 1,000 graduates 47 months later.

He said West Point graduates include 76 Medal of Honor recipients, two presidents (Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower) and two astronauts (Buzz Aldrin and Frank Borman). Heydt also noted there are nine current cadets from Northeast Tennessee.

Heydt served five years in active service after graduation, including three years as an Army artillery captain in Vietnam. He left the military in 1970 and begin a 32-year career as an associate director with Proctor & Gamble. His work would take him to Venezuela and Belgium.

He and his wife later decided to retire in Johnson City.

During his time at West Point, Heydt said he was fortunate to be part of history. He and other cadets marched in President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade, and he played in the televised 1963 Army/Navy football game, which was the first sporting event to feature instant replay.

He was also present for retired Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s famous “Duty, Honor, Country” speech to cadets in 1962.

“Today marks my final roll call with you, but I want you to know that when I cross the river my last conscious thoughts will be of the Corps, and the Corps and the Corps,” MacArthur, a 1903 West Point graduate, said in a speech delivered less than two years before his death.

Heydt told local Republicans his own time at West Point “was fantastic,” and he would recommend it to any young person who is looking to pursue a congressional nomination to attend a service academy.

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