“It’s Good”: The Bright Side Of West Point For A Cadet From Kosovo

Ylli Daladaku


Ylli Dalladaku was one of the first two Cadets from Kosovo (see also Arelena Shala). He grew up in the town of Ferizaj, Kosovo, with his two brothers. His father was a mechanic, like his father before him, and his mother stayed at home to raise the children. When he was two, his family fled to Macedonia during the 1999 Kosovo War. After the war, they returned to their house, and Ylli remembers playing with toy guns. He also recalls an American Soldier serving with NATO telling him not to play with guns, and giving him a mint chocolate. He attended a science-focused high school, and in his junior year, a mentor on the judo team recommended that he consider attending the Kosovo Military Academy. After learning about West Point, he began the application process. He arrived in America five days before R-Day, and was introduced to U.S. culture at a Six Flags Amusement Park. He did well academically, improving every semester and majoring in Systems Engineering. Militarily, he completed Airborne and Air Assault school, and was selected to be the First Sergeant for Company D4. He was the Judo team captain, and appreciated the mentorship he received from the coaches and Officers who supported the team. He was on spring break in Puerto Rico when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and sheltered at a friend’s house in Florida until returning to West Point for graduation. When he returns to Kosovo, he will serve as an Infantry Officer in the Kosovo Army. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, being a refugee during the Kosovo War, and his West Point experiences. He highlights the importance of the relationships he formed, and ties them to leadership lessons. He notes that West Point is an important part of his moral compass, and ends with advice for future Cadets before reflecting on what West Point means to him. He closes by saying, “Do something hard every day” to challenge yourself, and “be at peace when you go to bed.”


conflicts Kosovo War
topics Leadership West Point History COVID-19 Refugee Peacekeeping
interviewer David Siry
date 09 June 2020


name Ylli Daladaku
institution USMA
graduation year 2020
service Infantry
unit Kosovo Army
specialty Kosovo
service dates 2020