Grads Who Made The Grade

April 07, 1991|By A. M. Chaplin

WHEN IT COMES TO FAMOUS grads, the war colleges of the Army and Navy have a big head start, since they've been around a lot longer than the others -- the Navy's since 1884 and the Army's since 1901. Acting Deputy Commandant Col. Donald E. Lunday of the Army War College, for example, reels off the names of big-gun graduates like Pershing, Lejeune, Bradley, Vandenberg, Halsey, Patton and Eisenhower just for starters.

The Navy's war college, though, has the best war-college quote: Adm. Chester W. Nimitz said that with the single exception of the kamikaze attacks, nothing happened during the nation's war with Japan that hadn't already been played out in the war-gaming rooms at the war college.

The Air War College, though it's only been around since 1946, does have a couple of high-flying graduates: Everyone knows of right-stuff astronaut Chuck Yeager, and people who closely followed television coverage of the Persian Gulf war will remember the commentaries of retired Marine Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, director of the national security program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

The Industrial College of the Armed Forces lays claim to Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, the father of the Air Force, and Gen. John W. Vessey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1982 to 1985. And the National War College has Gen. Colin L. Powell, current chairman of the joint chiefs.

The joint chiefs' director of operations, though, Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Kelly, who handled the Pentagon briefings on the gulf war, went to the Army War College. There he was in the same class as Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf; both graduated in '73.

This doesn't mean, though, that no one can achieve high command without going to war college. Gen. William C. Westmoreland, for example, the best-known commander of the Vietnam years, didn't go. Instead, at approximately the career stage when he would have gone to war college, he went to the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

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