Ben Carson has had a crazy 24 hours. On Thursday a CNN report called into question whether, prior to finding God, Carson had a childhood history of assaulting his family members and friends. Then, Politico reported on Friday that Carson had never applied to West Point, the prestigious military academy, despite numerous claims by the candidate that he had been offered a scholarship to attend.
Politico quotes the passage in Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands, which details his experience marching in the May 1969 Memorial Day parade in Detroit, as a student leader of the city’s ROTC:
“I felt so proud, my chest bursting with ribbons and braids of every kind. To make it more wonderful, we had important visitors that day. Two soldiers who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Viet Nam were present,” he wrote. “More exciting to me, General William Westmoreland (very prominent in the Viet Nam war) attended with an impressive entourage. Afterward, Sgt. Hunt” — his high school ROTC director — “introduced me to General Westmoreland, and I had dinner with him and the Congressional Medal winners. Later I was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
West Point officials told Politico that they had no record of Carson’s application. Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett sought to clarify this passage in an email to the outlet: “He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors. 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 Politico story also discusses army records that show that General Westmoreland wasn’t in Detroit on Memorial Day in 1969. He did, however, visit in February, as a guest at a dinner honoring a Medal of Honor recipient. Carson could conceivably have been invited to that, given his position in the ROTC at the time.