William W. Whitson


Apprentice Warrior Author's Note

This is the third novel in the Born-For-Flight series. Like Something Glorious and The Fledgling, the first two novels of the series, this story is about the historic development of the airplane during the period from 1912 to 1916 and the fictional process by which a West Point Cadet’s illusions about the glory of war begin to fade before he graduates with the Class of 1916.

Thanks to the generous time and advice from Colonel George Pappas, Class of 1944, the renowned historian of West Point, I have attempted to portray the life of a Cadet before World War I with as much authenticity as the story could bear. To that end, I included several true stories from the annals of West Point: Cadet Haskell actually fought in Cuba with the Rough Riders; a Plebe actually planned and executed a protest against the system by leaving evidence that he passed in review nude and Douglas MacArthur’s mother did indeed live in the West Point Hotel for four years, the better to monitor her boy’s professional and personal life.

 

"West Point Rummel", 1912
West Point, 1912 (Rummel)

However, for the sake of drama, I have altered the facts in two particulars. Yearlings (sophomores) like Corporal Ike Eisenhower did not serve on the Beast Detail in the summers of 1912 and 1913. Indeed, Yearlings did not have a chance to interact with new Cadets until academics began in September of each year. Secondly, the upper classes (First Class, seniors; Second Class, juniors and Yearlings) received no spring leave in 1916.

To assist the stranger to West Point slang, I have provided a brief Glossary of Terms at the end of the story.


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