Oct. 31, 2012
Cadet Q&A: Brandon Whittington
Why did you choose to come to West Point?
From the ages of seven to 13 my mother and I took care of my elderly grandfather. We lived in a military town five minutes outside of the gates of Ft. Bliss, Texas, and before we moved in with my granddad to take care of him, my mother had a job on post. I remember going in really early with her sometimes and doing PT with some of the soldiers. I was always in shear awe of everything around me. The soldiers screaming in unison in response to the commands they were giving and the singing of cadences all around me always fired me up, much like it still does today. I knew then it was something that I always wanted to be a part of. Being with my granddad is also what ultimately brought me to West Point. He served 24 years and six months in the Army and retired as a sergeant first class. He served in WWII, Korea, and three tours in Vietnam and was awarded the bronze star medal. My granddad never talked about the Army with any of own kids or other grandkids, but it was something he shared with me. The Army meant the world to my grandfather, and I could see it in his eyes with every story, even the rough ones. I wanted to be as passionate about it as he ways, and more importantly, I wanted to make him proud. I hope he's looking down on me now with a smile on his face.
What does it mean to be an Army football player?
It means the world to me. The experiences I've gained on the team I feel will directly translate into the Army. I've always loved the history and tradition that surrounds our team. Knowing that soldiers all over the world and former graduates who are deployed will find ways to get the Army football score on Saturdays is extremely humbling. Much like being a soldier, being an Army football players makes you part of an organization that is so much bigger than one person. This team has been shaped and formed by everyone that has come before us, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the dynamic and foundation that was handed over to us will still be there for those that come after us. We are reminded of that every time we put our uniforms on for game day. Our uniforms don't just say West Point on them, there is a division patch on it as well, letting us know what is waiting for us in the near future. For me, it makes me extremely proud of where I am.
How has playing football at Army shaped you?
Army football has taught me how to handle myself in tough situations. It is extremely demanding, especially in the leadership positions that I have held in the Corps. I've had to learn to maximize my time and perform at a high level not just on the football field but in the classroom and in the Corps as well. I've felt like any of this is a burden, I've always tried to put things in perspective and remind myself that there will be much greater challenges waiting for me as an officer and in life in general. I know that I'm getting the practice now and overcoming these challenges will better equip me to tackle any challenges in the future.
Describe your fondest memory of Army football.
There are so many it is extremely hard to choose from. I would have to say my fondest memory is winning the Armed Forces Bowl. That week was absolutely incredible. All the events we went to and all the experiences with the guys was truly amazing and honestly, one of the best experiences of my life. Practice was practice and business as usual, but after practice it was just time built in to having fun with your brothers. I hope the younger guys will be able to experience what my classmates and I did two years ago.
Describe what you felt when chosen to be the First Captain of the Corps of Cadets.
It was extremely humbling and I was in complete shock. I knew I was potentially up for the position, but when I was told I was still very surprised. There is a wooden plank outside of the First Captain's office that has all the signatures of the previous men and women who have held the position. To know that my name will join the list of those individuals is an honor. Those people have gone on to do incredible things for the Army, and I hope to be just as influential as they were.
What does your job as First Captain entail?
I am the go-between for the upper administration and the Corps. When they things they want done they give me their intent and pass it on to my staff and the regimental staffs and ensure that it is accomplished. I also have the opportunity in influence positive change within the Corps as well. For me, I always try to include as many cadets as possible in whatever decisions I make. This is about building a strong team and solving problems. I realize that my job is not always about solving the problems on my own, but its about finding the best solution to a problem, even if I personally do not come up with the solution. Cadets are brilliant people and most will go on to do incredible things. More importantly, cadets are a great resource, and I'm thrilled I have the opportunity to work with other cadets every day.
If you were not playing football, what other sport would you play and why?
I'm honestly not sure. When I was a little, I played baseball and it is honestly something I wish I would have stuck with. Army baseball is also a great organization, and I wouldn't mind being a part of it.
What branch do you want to enter after graduation and why?
My first branch choice is Aviation. I think the leadership challenges and the technical atmosphere is something that I can excel in. I'm a mechanical engineering major with a focus on Aeronautics, and flying has always been attractive to me every since I was little. I would love to be a scout pilot in an Air Calvary unit and ride my steel horse off into the sunset.
What is the most important lesson you have learned while at West Point?
I've learned that the most important job of an officer is to take care of soldiers. As cadets its sometimes difficult to realize because of all the individuals demands we face daily, but as an officer I will also be responsible for the livelihood of my soldiers. There is no greater privilege in the world than to lead soldiers, and I cannot wait to have the opportunity.
What do you like to do in what little down time you have?
I love spending time with my friends. We have so many fun stories and so many memories built on these hallowed grounds that the bonds we have made will last forever. I also love spending time with my girlfriend. We met as cadet candidates the prep school and have shared every West Point experience together. She, as well as my mother, have been my biggest supporters at times when I've struggled. I look forward to sharing more of lives great adventures with her in the future.