“I Am Going To An Academy, The Only Question Is Which One”: The Adventures Of “A Scrappy, Resourceful, Athletic” Woman

Lori K. (Hess) Tompos


Lori K. (Hess) Tompos grew up in St. Clairsville, Ohio, with her brother and parents. Her father was a college history professor and dean, and her mother was a high school guidance counselor. Lori was always very involved in clubs and sports, and she gravitated towards leadership positions because she always wanted to make things better. She was driven to excel in high school and participated in Girl Scouts, track, cheerleading, and choirs. She initially considered attending Annapolis, but the feeling she got when she visited the Naval Academy was that the women midshipmen were ignored, so she set her sights on West Point. She attended the Prep School and made her lifelong best friends there. In the late 80s, the ratio of men to women at the Military Academy was roughly 10:1 and she was one of five women in H2 in the USMA Class of ’89. As a Cadet she majored in Engineering Management, completed Air Assault School at Ft. Campbell, and enjoyed taking the IOCT (Indoor Obstacle Course Test). She was a member of the Glee Club and loved representing the Academy on outreach trips to places such as Ebenezer Church in Atlanta and the National Cathedral. She is still connected to the Cadet Glee Club and frequently sings with the Alumni Glee Club. As a Rabble Rouser, she signed up for a cheer camp at the University of Tennessee and was the sole representative of the Military Academy. Other cheer squads invited her to be an “honorary member” of their teams for different events at the camp. She branched Air Defense and was assigned to the Patriot Missile system. While in the basic course, she met her husband, who was commissioned through the Ohio State University ROTC program. She was initially assigned to the 32nd Air Defense Command in Germany, and during Desert Shield she deployed to Tabuk (Tabouk), Saudi Arabia, where she was on the advanced party with 11 Infantry Soldiers to set up a Patriot battery site. After the Gulf War, she was assigned to the 94th Air Defense Brigade before transitioning to the Army Reserve in October of 1991. After leaving the military, she earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Ohio University in 1994 and an MBA from Elmhurst University in 2015. She has worked as an educator, a leadership advisor, and a coach. In this interview, she talks about her childhood, her West Point and Army experiences, and her life after leaving the military. She describes some of the challenges she has faced as well as some of the opportunities she has seized. At the end of the interview, she reflects on what West Point and her service mean to her.


conflicts Persian Gulf War
topics Women in Service Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Army Athletics West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 15 June 2022


name Lori K. (Hess) Tompos
institution USMA
graduation year 1989
service Air Defense Artillery
unit 32nd Air Defense Command; 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery; 94th Air Defense Brigade
specialty Rabble Rouser
service dates 1989 1992