Five Generations Graduate From West Point
(July 2, 2010)
Army Col. Mark Armstrong Sr., right, administers the military oath of office to his son, Army 2nd Lt. Mark Armstrong Jr., at as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., May 22, 2010. Lieutenant Armstrong became the fifth generation of his family to graduate from the academy. Courtesy photo
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, June 29, 2010
Service before self is expected in the
military, but one family has taken that concept to new heights.
Army 2nd Lt. Mark Armstrong Jr. graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West
Point, N.Y., marking the fifth consecutive generation of his family to do so.
"I wanted to serve my country, develop my leadership skills and get a
world-class education," Armstrong said. "At West Point, I was able to do that
and much, much more."
Armstrong has some big shoes to fill. His father, Army Col. Mark Armstrong Sr.,
serves on active duty as the U.S. Army North Region 9 defense coordinating
officer in Oakland, Calif., near his birthplace of Palo Alto, where generations
of his family have lived and served.
The senior Armstrong, a 1981 West Point graduate, proudly
administered the military oath of office to his son.
"I was thrilled to be able to commission my own son into the
Army," the colonel said, fully aware that his son may soon
be deployed in harm's way in Afghanistan or Iraq. "West
Point has prepared him well to be a leader of character in
today's complex, volatile, uncertain and multi-national
The senior Armstrong grew up in the San Francisco Bay area
into a family that already was rich in military family
tradition. His father, Army Lt. Col. John L. Armstrong, was
a 1946 graduate of West Point. A Pearl Harbor survivor and
veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, John died in
2004 and never got to see his grandson in uniform as a
"We are all so proud of Mark Jr.," said Kathryn Halsey
Armstrong, John's widow, who still lives in Palo Alto. "His
grandfather would have been so proud of him, too. He's a
fine young man, and carrying on a wonderful tradition of
service to our nation as part of the 'Long Gray Line.'”
Both of Mark Jr.'s great-grandfathers attended West Point as
well. Army Col. John D. Armstrong, also of Palo Alto, was a
1919 graduate. A Pearl Harbor survivor, he served as
commander of the 92nd Infantry Division's 365th Infantry
Regiment during World War II's Italian campaign.
The other great-grandfather, Army Maj. Gen. Milton B.
Halsey, was a 1917 graduate who joined the search for Pancho
Villa in the Desert Southwest immediately after graduation.
He later served with Gens. George Patton and Douglas
MacArthur and commanded the 97th Infantry Division in World
War II when it liberated Czechoslovakia.
Halsey then moved to the Pacific theater as commanding
general of the Yokohama Command and chief of staff of 9th
Corps during the occupation of Japan. He later served as
chief of staff of 8th Army, overseeing operations in both
Japan and Korea.
However, the rich family tradition began more than a century
ago in 1891 when Mark Jr.'s great-great grandfather, Army
Col. Frank Spear Armstrong, graduated from West Point -
starting the chain that hasn't been broken since.
Frank Armstrong was taught by the great Civil War generals
from West Point. He served in the Philippines as a young
officer and in France in World War I as the quartermaster
inspector of the American expeditionary forces and chief of
the Remount Service. He later served as the quartermaster of
Additionally, two of Mark Jr.'s uncles, John Armstrong Jr.,
1978, and Jon Halsey, 1985, also are graduates of West
The Armstrong military tradition in America started long
before West Point was founded. The earliest Armstrong in his
direct line of descendants to serve in America was Army Col.
John Armstrong, who served with George Washington and made
the famous Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River
during the Revolutionary War, earning the "Order of the
The military ties also extend to the maternal side of the
Halsey family, with Army Col. Lee Crandall, commander of
47th Arkansas Cavalry, who served during the Civil War. Mark
Jr.'s brother, Andrew, is an ROTC cadet at the University of
California Santa Barbara, where his sister, Apryl, recently
As to whether his younger sister, Leah, will attend West
Point, Armstrong said "it is too early to say - but don't
rule it out."
Armstrong will attend communications training in Georgia
before attending the U.S. Army Airborne School. His first
duty assignment will be in Bamberg, Germany, as part of the
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
By Randy Mitchell, U.S. Army North
American Forces Press Service
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