A Salute and a Wave of the Hat

30 10 2012

This past weekend the WP-ORG Board of Advisors met in Austin, Texas, home of WP-ORG. This happens every three years or so to ensure that no one’s body has been taken over by alien invaders. A considerable number of topics were addressed and the meeting minutes will be published soon.

The meeting coincided with the end of my second three-year term as WP-ORG CEO. It’s time for me to move on to other endeavors so I have stepped down and the scepter, crown, and throne have been passed to Paul Werner, West Point class of 1983. It’s been my pleasure to have known Paul for several years. He is fully capable and his ethics and integrity are unimpeachable. You are in good hands.

It would be remiss of me to not mention my gratitude for the support I’ve received from the WP-ORG moderators through the years, years long preceding my tenure as CEO. The moderators are the backbone of the organization, they make it run. A heartfelt thank you goes to the Board of Advisors as well for their support and guidance during the sunny and the dark days that we’ve encountered on this journey. Together we’ve made a formidable team.

I extend a sincere thank you to West Point itself, WP-ORG’s reason for existing. Specifically, I thank the Superintendent, LTG David Huntoon, the Chief of Staff, COL Charles Stafford, and STRATCOM, Ms. Maureen Fitzgerald, for their support and spirit of cooperation and teamwork. As LTG Huntoon says, “One team; one common purpose.”

Also, a thank you (and a kiss) to my patient wife, Mary, who endured my occasional rants to interject reason and calm when they were needed most.

WP-ORG remains the preeminent organization providing electronic networking for the extended West Point community. We are a small group of volunteers running a non-profit entity. If you haven’t done so lately, you owe it to yourself to visit our home page and poke around a little.

The time has now come for me to mount up.

I bid you fair days, fair dealings, and farewell.

~ Dempsey

Al Haig, ’47

21 02 2010

We lost Al Haig on Saturday. Fittingly, the persistent sunshine here in Phoenix gave way to rain.

Much has been written of the man and I won’t repeat the accolades or criticisms of others here except to emphasize that the most meaningful judgement comes from one’s peers. In 1996 the West Point Association of Graduates presented Al Haig with the Distinguished Graduate award.

I was watching the news when Secretary of State Haig made his now infamous “..I’m in control here…” remark at the White House in the wake of the Reagan assassination attempt. Had the media done more than simply exploit this remark for sensationalism – had they performed even a modicum of investigation – they would have discovered that West Point trains its cadets to take charge in moments of crisis and that responsibility always falls upon the shoulders of the highest ranking individual present. There, on that day, at that moment, Al Haig was the highest ranking individual present. He was indeed, “in control here”.

It is widely believed that this incident alone was the reason for the failure of Haig’s 1988 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. We are all the poorer for it because we can do – and have done – much worse than having an Al Haig as this nation’s leader.

A major tenet of West Point’s mission is to educate and train leaders of character committed to the values of “Duty, Honor, Country”. Al Haig internalized these values, he lived them.

General Haig: warrior, statesman, patriot. In the term most meaningful to a fellow West Point graduate: Well Done.

~ Dempsey

West Point R-Day, 2009

2 07 2009

Thanks to the West Point Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Michael Linnington, WP-ORG was accorded a table at this year’s R-Day. We had WP-ORG’s Dian Welle, her husband Dan, WP-ORG moderator Megan Hostler, her husband Dutch, ’68, and Bob Totten, ’60, steering new cadets’ parents to the sign-up sheets. My wife, Mary, also pitched in.

Many thanks to Dian for the hard work she put into the WP-ORG sign, the brochures and nametags; thanks also to Megan for the goodies (invariably the candy would be spotted by some kids and they’d come over with their parents in tow). Some of those who stopped by the table were already on Plebe-net and were thrilled to meet their moderator, Megan.

We signed up close to 400 individuals in a single day and afforded them and others who were familiar with WP-ORG the chance to put some faces to the names.

Thanks to all involved, especially BG Linnington, for their efforts and for making this possible. A special thanks to spouses Dutch, Dan, and Mary for their involvement.

From a WP-ORG standpoint, R-Day was quite a success!

Mary and I took a few pictures while we were there.

~ Dempsey

Random Ramblings

26 10 2008

One of the difficult things about a BLOG is keeping it current, writing something from time to time. Since WP-ORG is a non-profit organization I’m somewhat limited in what I can put here. Also, when I started this BLOG, I didn’t want to just post generic, sanitized information that’s of no interest to anyone.

So, on that note, I happened to be watching the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of my favorite football teams, on TV today and I noticed that the end zone at Heinz Field has the word “Pittsburgh” painted on the field. No news flash there. But then there’s this, recently taken over Michie Stadium at West Point by Lee Ross. That symbol you see after the words “West Point” is ®; the name has been registered as a trademark by the Academy. Memorabilia bought at the Academy will carry this tag as well. Makes me wonder why the Pittsburgh Steelers football organization, a commercial entity, hasn’t done the same thing, and it makes me wonder when I’ll get a recall notice for my class ring so the symbol can be added there as well.

Past readers will notice that the banner on the BLOG has been replaced. That’s because it contained the words “West Point” and we (WP-ORG) were told by the Academy’s lawyers that we didn’t have permission to use the words. West-Point.Org is OK, but “West Point” is not, not without specific permission. Many thanks to Lee Ross and his skill with a camera for the current banner; it’s a shot of West Point, Hudson River view, taken from above Constitution Island.

On a bright note we’ve successfully completed fund drive 24 and achieved our operating budget for the next six months. Here’s hoping everyone’s week starts on a good note.

~ Dempsey

Trademarks, Threats, and Failure

21 07 2008

It’s been almost a week since the letter of clarification (see my previous BLOG entry) was disseminated to limited distribution by the Superintendent of West Point. The damage caused by the Academy’s re-branding and trademarking campaign remains. Hopefully there has been additional and personal back channel communication with parents whose graduates are fighting and continue to die for their country. That they have been profoundly hurt and offended by the Cease and Desist letters they’ve received is a matter of record. 

The USMA Association of Graduates (AOG) is attempting to distance itself from this entire affair and who can blame them? They’re poised to kick off a fund raising campaign in the near future and it’s in their best interest to let the furor die and hope that people will forget. Or, with enough time having passed, at least forgive. This distancing, stating that the Cease and Desist campaign is a unilateral move on the part of the Academy, takes on a pronounced pallor when viewed in light of the fact that the AOG is a beneficiary by contract of a percentage of the income stream generated by the USMA trademarks.

To the extent that his or her staff determines a commander’s effectiveness, the Superintendent’s staff failed him. From the poorly planned and even more poorly executed campaign against graduates and parents by the USMA Office of the Staff Judge Advocate (OSJA – the lawyers), to the lack of effective direction provided by the Academy’s Dr. Seuss quoting Public Affairs Officer, the trademarking and re-branding effort continues to plow along with all the finesse of a drunk at High Tea.

~ Dempsey

Behind the Scenes, a Response

15 07 2008

In reaction to the uproar caused by the OSJA, USMA sending threatening letters to West Point Parents Clubs, the Superintendent of West Point today had the email below forwarded to West Point Society, Class, and Parents Club Presidents for whom the AOG, USMA has an email address (I know, it’s signed by the President of the AOG but the original was sent by the Superintendent):

***This message is being sent to Society Presidents.***

Dear Society Leaders:
The Superintendent and Chairman have asked that I share with you a message sent by LTG Hagenbeck to Parents Club Presidents today.  Thank you again for all you do for West Point and its graduates. 


West Point Society Leaders (West Point Class Leaders),

I know there has been discussion about our recent trademarking efforts so I wanted you to see this email I just sent to our Parents Club Presidents. Hope to see you here for the AOG Leaders Conference in August.

LTG Hagenbeck

Parents Club Presidents,

As many of you know, West Point has begun the necessary task of more stringently enforcing our trademarks, and we have sent letters explaining this to our Parents Clubs. I understand that these letters worried and even offended some of you, our most ardent supporters. For that I apologize. Let me assure you of my continued appreciation and respect for you and your organizations.

However, for the good of the Academy we must continue to ensure all uses of our trademarks are approved and appropriate. This spring, at the Parents Clubs conference, we gave a presentation on the trademark program, and later sent out information letters to the approximately 100 parents clubs. Of those 100 clubs, only nine remained out of compliance and received a second notification.

Trademarks are a type of intellectual property. They are the words, phrases, and symbols that represent West Point. We began registering our marks in the mid-1970s and the program has grown, particularly as the market for sports related goods has exploded. Information on our trademarks has been on our website for several years at <http://www.westpoint.edu/trademark.asp>http://www.westpoint.edu/trademark.asp

Under US law we must protect these trademarks or we will lose our right to the exclusive use of our own marks. Truly, the potential exists that, without the proper enforcement our marks could be used without permission. If that happens, not only could anyone anywhere sell merchandise with our name and logos, costing cadet activities and athletics approximately $400,000 a year, but our marks could be modified and even used in profane or political ways.

The enforcement process is not directed specifically at you, our Parents Clubs, or at our Societies, Class Organizations or the Association of Graduates. We have not, and will not, ask for those who support us to pay for the use of the West Point name or logos. But, to ensure we meet our legal obligations as trademark owners, we do limit the use of our logos and we will work with you to ensure that all items have been licensed with our agent, the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, and any products sold pay the licensing fee.

Thanks for trusting us with your most precious possession, your children, and thanks your continued support of West Point.

Beat Navy!

Buster Hagenbeck

Robert L. McClure ’76
President & CEO
West Point Association of Graduates
698 Mills Road
West Point, NY 10996
Phone:  845-446-1600
FAX:  845-446-1696

Serving West Point and the Long Gray Line


For history regarding the above and other issues, see Behind the Scenes, Behind the Scenes Part II, and Behind the Scenes – Reactions.

Behind the Scenes – Reactions

14 07 2008

Responding to the overwhelming reaction brought about by the USMA OSJA’s overbearing approach to control West Point Parents’ Clubs activities and Web site content, the Chairman of the USMA Association of Graduates issued the following as damage control (SIC), my comments follow:

From: Ted Stroup

Subj: AOG Advisors update on Parents Club “Branding Issue”

This note is to provide you the latest on a controversial issue swirling over the net and telephone circuits about a USMA JAG correspondence with our West Point Parents clubs. I would note that there is a lot of emotion here and not all the information about how  is yet available – but these are the facts as I have picked them up over the last several days.

Let me assure you on two things – 1) your WPAOG has not been engaged in this action between USMA and the Parents Clubs – although we are being erroneously blamed or faulted for the action – more on that later, and 2) the Supe and I have discussed this situation several times and he is energized to take corrective – not punitive action – in both the policy and implementation area – so  you should hear from him first of the week.

WHAT HAS OCCURRED: USMA has undertaken a program over the last year or so to establish protection and ownership of the West Point name and “brand” – meaning images, logos, colors, and names. As I have learned, the initial outreach was to commercial entities that use or have been using West Point ” branding items”. I cannot report on the methodology or success of this effort to date. At some point this spring, USMA communicated to its annual spring Parents Clubs session at West Point that they would be asked to submit a request for use of such West Point items that they use or would use as a Parents club. I am not sure of the extent of effectiveness of this initial contact with the participants and what ‘stuck” as to action required. Nevertheless, later this summer,

USMA sent out in legalese a “cease and desist” letter to those clubs that had not response. Hence, the brouhaha that has spiraled around the nets – both WPAOG and WP-ORG. There are a great number of Graduates upset over this action. I have not seen one of the “cure” letters, but what ever the letter(s) said – it has caused a great deal of frustration and hubris – one needs only look at my email traffic. the messages have ranged from “… how could this happen; what does this mean; how can they and of course, how can you WPAOG send out such letters and that was accompanied by “…forget anymore support from me, if you and USMA, act like this to our Parents club.”

WHAT I KNOW : I can tell  you that this action was a  USMA stand alone action that our WPAOG had no participation in – in either process or in the decision tree -leading to this issue development. The Supe is into this from my discussion with him these past several days and will take action and communicate to the Graduates soon. He has an action team meeting Monday to sort through the battlefield debris. We have had a good discussion on this and both acknowledge it is a poorly managed staff action by USMA..I also know that there is a lot of e-talk going about on blogs and forum and class nets – some of which is mis-truths, not factual basis and feeding the fire comments.From some of the comments, it is almost like the blogging going on between Obama and McCain, in the to and fro. Of course, some of these comments paint WPAOG with a tar brush as being the main culprit. To repeat, it ain’t us that is the problem. It is us that is working with the Supe to address the issue and move to solution.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME – At -Large, Society, Class. Most of us are connected with our local society as Graduates. Most of the Societies are connected by sponsorship, membership, or participation with our local parents club. Parents Clubs are valuable for both retention and recruiting for our alma mater and their eagerness and stability is important. I would ask that you reach out and contact the your local contact – coordinating especially with you local Society – to ascertain if they are in this “branding” issue box. If so, inform that the USMA action is not punitive – but merely housekeeping from the intellectual property perspective and that the USMA leadership will be providing clarifying info soonest. I have encouraged the Supe to move quickly on this during the coming week. If you are a class advisor, I have sent a separate clarifying email to our class leaders – check and see if it made it and stuck for information.

As I understand from my discussion with the Supe, the program will be brought up at our Leader’s conference next month but the Supe’s immediate action will occur more quickly next week.

WHAT ARE OTHER ISSUES INVOLVED: Ancillary to the e-discussion going on is the linkage of this issue by USMA and USMA’s denial of WP-ORG from participating in the “R” day membership events in Ike Hall. I dont have the full story here but what I know is that WP-ORG asked to participate in this year’s “R” day events to promote what they do for Graduates and Families – as aside they have done this in the last several years – last year , I personally intervened with USMA C/S to allow WP-ORG to participate last year. Somehow linkage of this “branding issue” and the USMA denial for this year at “R” day has become misconstrued or promoted as a move by WPAOG to put WP-ORG out of business. Furtherest from reality or the truth, we are looking for ways to leverage the energy and talent of both organizations to better serve West Point and its Graduates. This has not occurred yet and I still have it as a goal as your Chairman. I want us to look to future opportunities to exploit the strengths of both organizations. Still waiting to find solution set.

WHAT ELSE AND WHAT’S NEXT: I will keep pressing USMA leadership to get the action back under control. I will ask that you use prudence and judgment in the swirl of e-info going around the net. In particular, we are not at war with WP-ORG on this issue or on their denial by the USMA to participate in this year’s “R” day. I addressed that above.  Hug your local Parents club if  you are engaged with them and tell them nothing nasty will come if they have not responded to the USMA JAG yet. Stay steady and be rational for the facts not the rumors or the “Rush Limbaugh” like speculations or innuendos. And next Beat Navy. Cheers

It’s heartening to hear that the Superintendendent is about to take control of this issue and bring the OSJA back into line. As the AOG attempts to distance itself from the OSJA’s actions, however, there are some issues regarding what’s been written above:

  • As to this being a unilateral action on the part of USMA with the AOG having no hand in it, I got a different inpression from a talk I had with the AOG president. It was the president who explicitly told me, “I had to shut down…” an organization selling liquor under the West Point name. This would certainly lead one to believe that the AOG is, to some extent, involved in the above policing action.
  • The AOG latches onto cadet/candidate parents at R-Day as a future source of revenue for themselves and USMA.  With that in mind it would seem logical for the two organizations to communicate regarding actions taken that may affect the cash flow.
  • The following terms are used to describe recent electronic traffic regarding the issues specified above: “mis-truths”, “not factual basis and feeding the fire comments”, “rumors or the ‘Rush Limbaugh’ like speculations or innuendos”. It would help to identify the specific “mistruths”, etc., so that they may be factually dispelled.
  • The paragraph under WHAT ARE OTHER ISSUES INVOLVED would lead the reader to believe that the AOG’s actions toward WP-ORG are altruistic and that denial of our participation at this year’s R-Day was a unilateral action on the part of the USMA OSJA. In fact, during last year’s approval process, wherein WP-ORG was initially denied, the OSJA provided the AOG with WP-ORG’s approval packet. Why? Furthermore, the president of the AOG, not the OSJA, informed me that WP-ORG had been denied participation. Why would he be in possession of this information?

When and if WP-ORG receives answers to its questions or additional information, we’ll let you know. For history regarding the issues addressed here see, Behind the Scenes and Behind the Scenes, Part II.

~ Dempsey