An Army Gymnast On Discipline And Leadership On The Battlefield And In Industry

John Longhouser


John Longhouser’s high school gymnastics coach first introduced the idea of West Point to him. At the time, the trampoline was John’s event, but it was not a part of college gymnastics. Even so, he decided to come to the Military Academy, joining the Class of 1965, and became an Army Gymnast. He recalls the Army – Navy meet during his First Class year. He commissioned as an Armor Officer, choosing that branch because he had a “knack for mechanical engineering.” His first assignment was in Cold War Germany, and he remembers the alerts that sent units rushing to their defensive positions. He then deployed to Vietnam twice, serving with 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (67-68) and as a MACV Advisor (71-72). Returning from Vietnam, he taught in the Department of Engineering from 1972 to 1975 at West Point. With the exception of an assignment as the Brigade S3 for 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division in Germany, much of the rest of his career was dedicated to working with industry and developing Army future systems, including the M1 Abrams tank. He highlights the “Big Five” systems that transformed the Army, explaining how strong leadership and a unified plan helped get those modernization initiatives implemented. Throughout his career, he found that the discipline he learned on the Army Gymnastics Team helped make him the leader he became. Now, 57 years after he graduated from West Point, he remains active with the gymnastics team and the Academy, noting that “everything I have been and am, I owe to West Point.”


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics Army Athletics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie West Point History USMA 1965
interviewer David Siry
date 15 January 2022


name John Longhouser
institution USMA
graduation year 1965
service Armor
unit 1-33 Armor; 3rd Squadron, 11th ACR; MACV; CME USMA; General Motors; 1st BDE, 1st AD
specialty Army Gymnastics
service dates 1965 1997