Art Mulligan grew up in New York City and Yonkers. His father was in real estate, and his mother became a teacher. As a young boy, he was introduced to West Point through a TV show about West Point in the 50s and Red Reeder’s books, such as “The West Point Story.” During Cadet Basic Training (Beast Barracks), future Dean Dan Kaufman was his Squad Leader. Struggling through Plebe year, his roommate, Larry Hansen, provided the positive example that changed his perspective. He decided to branch field artillery, and shortly after graduation in 1966, he got married. His first assignment was in Germany, where, as a second lieutenant, he served as the Executive Officer in C Battery, 1-36 FA, a fielding 8-inch Self-Propelled Howitzers. In October, 1968, he deployed to Vietnam and was assigned to 8th Battalion, 4th Field Artillery in Dong Hoa, near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), supporting the 3rd Marine Division. While in Vietnam, he served as the S1 (Adjutant) for most of the year. Shortly after returning home from Vietnam, he resigned from the Army, but reentered the service nine months later because he missed the camaraderie and the sense of purpose. From 1971 to 1974, he served in Hawaii as a Finance Officer. In 1976, he returned to West Point in the Department of Admissions, where he served for 17 years. Eventually, their youngest daughter chose to attend West Point, starting in 1989 with the Class of ‘93. He was able to commission his daughter on the day she graduated, and two days later she retired her father from the Army.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood and his experiences at West Point, including his shock when reality did not match the idealized vision of the Military Academy portrayed on television and in the books he read as a child. He describes his experiences in Germany, and how he gained confidence in his planning abilities. He recalls his tour in Vietnam, and feeling a sense of “fear all the time” for the whole year. He internalized his feeling of constantly being on alert into a sense of anger and a desire for control that remained with him a long time after departing Vietnam. In the late 90s, he and his wife returned to Vietnam as a way of dealing with the lingering stress caused by his experiences during the war. That trip was a cathartic experience that allowed him to release a lot of the anger that had gripped him for 30 years. He discusses his time at West Point as an Admissions Officer, and the changes he observed between 1976 and 1993, including the admission of women into West Point, and the cultural change required for the male Cadets. He explains the importance of religion to his family, and their faith-based outreach to Cadets and other military families. He concludes his interview by expressing what West Point means to him, and offers his views on living a lifetime of service.