*Ben Carson’s campaign has admitted that his inspirational story about applying to and being accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was indeed fabricated, reports Politico.com.
In response to an inquiry from the website, Carson’s campaign conceded that the story he has told for years, also detailed in his book “Gifted Hands,” was, in fact, not entirely the truth.
According to Carson’s account, he was introduced at age 17 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That 1969 meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by a “full scholarship” to the military academy.
West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission.
“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such,” she said.
When presented with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.
“Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit,” campaign manager Barry Bennett wrote in an email to Politico. “In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer.”
“He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors,” Bennett added. “They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”
The West Point spokeswoman said it certainly is possible Carson talked with Westmoreland, and perhaps the general even encouraged him to apply to West Point. However, she said, the general would have explained the benefits of a West Point education without guaranteeing him entry.
An application to West Point begins with a nomination by a member of Congress or another prominent government or military official. After that, a rigorous vetting process begins. If offered admission, all costs are covered; indeed there are no “full scholarships,” per se.
This admission follows other inconsistencies recently uncovered in Carson’s personal narrative, including the seminal episode in which he claimed to have attempted to stab a close friend, and his story about nearly being robbed at gunpoint at a Baltimore Popeye’s.