West Point '41 : The Class That Went to War and Shaped America
Anne Kazel-Wilcox

West Point '41 : The Class That Went to War and Shaped America

West Point ’41 follows the lives of a close-knit group of officers that graduate from West Point together in 1941 and are then catapulted from one conflict into another — World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and for some, Vietnam. The officers struggle with the tumult of wars and early command, with godforsaken places and forgotten comrades. At times they rely on rigid training to survive, but in other instances it is their unorthodox approaches and experimentation that prove the critical difference between life and death — and in their successes in war and peace. In eras of unheralded military latitude, they are permitted to be entrepreneurs, “gazing unfettered into the future,” able to make indelible marks on America. All the while, they cling tightly to moral courage that is often tested and hold firm to the bonds that are so paramount to those of the “Long Gray Line.”

West Point ’41  is driven by first-person recollections of about a dozen key officers still alive today, many who reveal never-before-disclosed incidents of historic importance. Highlights include:

  • Class of ’41 officers command in the Battle of the Bulge, drink Hitler’s confiscated champagne in triumph, and carry the atomic weapons to Japan for detonation. They also lose 10 percent of their class to the war.
  • They plan the tour de force of the Inchon invasion into Korea and lead under MacArthur, but then fail to rescue one of their own who is confined to a 55-gallon drum beaten 24/7 by the North Koreans.
  • In a space race against the Soviets, they succeed in secret missile programs that launch America’s first satellites, yet they must tackle Senator McCarthy as he tries to “out” many in uniform as Communists.
  • Some stand armed and ready on the west side of Germany for a possible third world war, while others are outrunning Soviet spies on the east side in sophisticated games of Cold War cat and mouse.
  • ’41 officers are vocal in wanting to experiment with armed helicopters, bringing the world’s first combat air-cavalry units to Vietnam.

Over the decades, setbacks among the class are many, but the successes are greater still. They create the first computer command center, help develop nuclear energy, experiment with drones, and parlay military advancements into civilian life. Those that remain, now all in their 90s, come together once more to share their tales of “Duty, Honor, Country,” the West Point creed by which they have tried to live their lives. Through the saga of this group of military friends, readers are carried through the transformation of America as it struggles over more than half a century for its identity and for peace. 

Book Details:

  • Author: Anne Kazel-Wilcox
  • Published Year: 2014
  • Rights Sold
    • US: University Press of New England

Anne Kazel-Wilcox

Anne Kazel-Wilcox has 20-plus years of writing and journalism experience. She’s roamed the world writing travel articles for over a decade having authored nearly 100 features published in outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Miami Herald. She’s covered spice markets in Morocco, tracked jaguars in Costa Rica, partaken in “extreme driving” adventures in Canada, and infiltrated Stalin’s hidden bunker in Moscow, among other exotic adventures about which she’s written.Her passion in recent years, however, is teaming with he...
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Book Reviews

  • "Anne Kazel-Wilcox and PJ Wilcox’s book “West Point ’41: The Class That Went To War And Shaped America" is a very important contribution to the annals of military history. It goes beyond a recitation of battles, plans, conflicts and heroism by getting beneath the skins of the key participants as they progress along their military career trajectories. These new officers move from West Point to various commands across the world at the time when the greatest demands were being made on the U.S. military. By use of the vehicle of oral histories the authors are able to convey to the reader an immediacy of the challenges confronting their interviewees as they saw them, heard them and evaluated them at the time. There is a continued intimacy of the reader with the thoughts and observations of the officers as they dealt with a wide range of these challenges; an intimacy which allows the characters and values of the officers to come to the fore through their own words and memories. This is a book which should be widely circulated as the memories, adventures and introspections of the West Point Class of 1941 are unique to the literature of conflict and a valuable insight to the workings of the military system."
    General Barry R. McCaffrey, USA (Ret.) Four Star General
  • ""West Point ‘41: The Class That Went To War And Shaped America" written by the Wilcox’s and General Rowny is an absorbing book about an emerging generation of leaders faced with extraordinary challenges in times of war and peace. Never has a book about one group of officers been so illuminating and far-reaching in scope.  "
    Fred Kempe, Author of "Berlin 61"
  • "  A fascinating read about brave men who were not only soldiers but often diplomats and scientists that played a large role in forming the last half of the 20th Century."
    Larry King
  • "  Every American patriot should read "West Point 41: The War Class That Shaped America" even those of us who hail from the "other academy."  The first-hand military academy and WWII battlefield accounts of the Army leaders of our greatest generation are priceless.    "
    Hon. Joseph E. Schmitz, former Inspector General of the Department of Defense (2002-05)
  • "an enjoyable and fresh contribution to documenting the experiences of America’s “Greatest Generation."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "An entertaining history of the American way of war from Pearl Harbor through Vietnam as told by graduates of the U.S. Military Academy... The war stories are inspiring. Equally engaging are the glimpses into other valuable contributions soldiers make over the course of a career, from shaping planning at the highest levels during the Eisenhower administration to innovating new weapons and tactics like the air mobility and combat aviation force."
    Army Magazine
  • "...an entertaining history of the American way of war from Pearl Harbor through Vietnam as told by graduates of the U.S. Military Academy. . . . The war stories are inspiring. Equally engaging are the glimpses into other valuable contributions soldiers make over the course of a career, from shaping planning at the highest levels during the Eisenhower administration to innovating new weapons and tactics like the air mobility and combat aviation force."
    Army