The class of 1976—who left West Point at a low point for both the Army and its famed training ground—has produced a striking number of generals now influencing the shape of the U.S. military. All told, at least 33 active and retired generals, now all in their mid-50s, were among its 855 graduating members. Gen. McChrystal’s deputy in Kabul, Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, was a classmate, as was the officer leading U.S. efforts to train the Iraqi army, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick. Retired Lt. Gen. Dave Barno, who spent 19 months as the top commander in Afghanistan, was also West Point ’76.
“It’s really sort of unprecedented,” says Stephen Grove, a civilian who recently retired after 30 years as West Point’s official historian. “The class of 1915 is known as ‘the class the stars fell on’ because of graduates like Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower. But you could argue that the class of 1976 is becoming just as influential.”
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