MG(R) Peter Boylan, Jr. grew up in Portage, Wisconsin, and spent much of his childhood learning the value of hard work on his grandparents’ farm. After high school, he entered the University of Wisconsin and completed a few semesters before enlisting. He then received an appointment to West Point, and entered the academy with the Class of 1961. He performed well academically, earning a spot on the Dean’s list all four years, and did well enough militarily to become the G1 Company Commander. He was also very active in extracurricular activities. He commissioned as an Infantry Officer, and his first assignment was in Germany, where some of his NCOs taught him valuable lessons that he carried with him throughout his life. After the advanced course, he deployed to Vietnam, and was seriously wounded as the S3. After close to four months recovering in Japan, he returned to Vietnam and served as the commander for A/1-2 Infantry in the 1st Infantry Division. He returned to the United States and entered grad school at the University of Michigan during the summer of 1967, where he was shocked by the anti-war atmosphere. From 1969 to 1972, he taught mechanics at West Point before returning to Vietnam on the MAC-V staff as the American War was winding down in 1972-1973. In the summer of 1974, he began a long stint at Fort Bragg, serving in the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division, eventually commanding both 3-325 PIR and 1st Brigade in the 82nd Airborne Division. While he was the Chief of Staff, he participated in the invasion of Grenada in October 1983. After serving as the Assistant Division Commander for the 82nd, he returned to West Point as the Commandant of Cadets until August 1987. He commanded the 10th Mountain Division from April 1988 until September 1990, and worked to make the division combat ready. After a short stint at the Pentagon, he retired following more than 30 years of service. He entered the private sector briefly before serving as the president of Georgia Military College for 21 years.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, enlisted experience, time as a Cadet, and service in the Army. He highlights several lessons he learned during his career and how they made him a better leader. He describes his deployments to Vietnam and Grenada and some of the operations he conducted. Finally, he reflects on his service, his children and grandchildren who attended West Point, and what the Academy means to him.