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The Ex-Convict Gets A Visit From General Patton
Maybe It Was Safer In Hanoi

One day while Director, Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) at Newport RI, I received a call from the Superintendent of the Naval Academy alerting me to the arrival of Major General George S. Patton III USA (Ret.) and his son, George. His son allegedly was interested in going to the Naval Academy but couldn't quite cut the admission standards; so the Pattons were checking out my operation to see if the school plant facilities met their exacting standards. I was cautioned to be on my best and most diplomatic behavior. After six years in a Communist jail, I was not noted for my diplomacy and political savvy.


NAPS on Parade, NETC Newport, Rhode Island

It had been our experience over the years that when a young "military brat" showed up with his parents, it was the parents who wanted to join us, not the kid. If a kid was really interested he usually showed up by himself or with a peer, leaving the parents at home or the motel. The higher ranking the parent, the more pressure on the kid and on the Academy admissions office. In this case it would have been a real coup for USNA to latch on to the grandson of the Army's "Old Blood and Guts".

Our SOP was that my #2, Jim Mattis, Major of Marines, would peel off the kid from the adult to help the kid determine and verbalize what s/he really wanted and how to present that decision, at an appropriate time, to the adult. If the kid really had a vocation, the Major would brief him up and find a way to get him in. If no vocation, we would find a way to help him get out of an intolerable situation.


Former Major of Marines
Now Lieutenant General Mattis

My job was to baby sit/distract the adult so that the Major could do his job. The General was obviously not pleased that his son was even considering the Navy. He informed me that I would have to build a handball court since that was his son's favorite individual sport. He was most concerned that we had no stables and horses as riding was an essential element in the formation of any officer and gentleman. He was aghast that a Navy school had no sailing vessels. He minutely inspected everything from the heads to the locker rooms - finding them all wanting. I endured a litany of my failings, shortcomings and even challenges to my manhood.

After a couple of hours, the Major hunted down the General and me and give me a subtle thumbs down. I unobtrusively patted my head (aviator stuff for "I got the lead."). The Major had advised the kid to keep his eyes open and mouth shut - just watch the action.

Young George's silence was interpreted by the General to be indicative of a lack of enthusiasm and general disapproval of what he had seen at NAPS. His dad really wanted him at the Military Academy Preparatory School (MAPS) in New Jersey.


Former Colonel of the Army of the U. S.
Retired as Major General George Patton III

I gave the General a most truthful and sincere briefing on the future facilities plan for NAPS - there was none - no handball court, no sailing fleet, no stables and no horses in the budget near or far. I observed that we could never, in the near future, hope to duplicate the formative training that he and his father had received at "The Point". We were just a different breed of cat. As I ushered the General and his now smiling son out the door, I expressed regret that his son would not be joining us and asked that he use his influence in the coming years to get more resources for NAPS.

Later when we debriefed the hop it was evident that the young man had no interest in or intention to join any type or form of military service. He was being pressured to carry on a family military tradition in which he had neither the talent nor the calling. If forced to enlist he would have done everything he could do within the law to get thrown out and get on with his life.

The Naval Academy admissions office was mightily ticked off. The Superintendent was relieved to have dodged a bullet and thought the whole episode was quite humorous. The last thing he needed was a General Patton breathing down his neck for five years. On reading the good General's obituary I learned that none of his children served in the U. S. military and that son George, still in mufti, is living in South Hampton, Massachusetts on the family blueberry farm.

Richard A. Stratton
Atlantic Beach, Florida
February 20, 2005