If you were a cadet at West Point and knew with virtual certainty that upon graduation you would be sent into the teeth of...

If you were a cadet at West Point and knew with virtual certainty that upon graduation you would be sent into the teeth of the Vietnam war, what would you do? Well, if you were Tom Carhart and five of his buddies, you’d decide to have one last hurrah and steal the Navy’s mascot before the Army-Navy game. Students at West Point had stolen said mascot–“Bill the Goat”–once before, namely in 1954. To avoid further embarrassment at the hands of its arch-rivals, the Navy thereafter placed “Bill” in a high-security facility under Marine guard. No matter, Tom and his fellow cadets said. Even if they were caught (and they knew they would be found out eventually), what could the Army do? Send them to Vietnam? That was in the works anyway. So, as Tom explains in his terrific book The Golden Fleece: High-Risk Adventure at West Point (Potomac Books, 2017), off they went to steal the goat…and off they went to Vietnam.

Tom’s a great storyteller, and his book is at moments funny and touching. Moreover, he offers deep insight into what it was like to be a cadet in the 1960s, to know that you were going to war, and to go to war and come back. Not everyone did, of course. I highly recommend you pick up The Golden Fleece.

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