David Phillips was born at West Point in 1940 while his father, John Phillips (USMA ’29), was teaching in the Department of Social Sciences. During World War II, his father served in Europe while the family lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. They joined the elder Phillips in 1946 when he was assigned to the Military Assistance forces after the war. From 1948 to 1952, the Phillips family returned to West Point before a follow-on assignment to Europe. David enjoyed living in Frankfurt, Germany, among other overseas postings including London, Hanau, and Augsburg. Returning from Europe, the family was assigned to Ft. Ord, California, where David completed high school. He began thinking about West Point after seeing the Glee Club on the Ed Sullivan Show (although his father anticipated that he might want to consider the Academy). On R-Day, he was “corrected” by the “King of Beast,” Pete Dawkins. At one point, he considered resigning, but a quick break in the Catholic Chapel reenergized him. By his Firstie (senior) year, he was Company First Sergeant. Upon graduation, he commissioned into the Field Artillery, like his father, and served in Germany. When he deployed to Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, his wife and four children moved to Monterey, California. In Vietnam, he served first with the Headquarters, First Field Force, and then was assigned to C Battery, 7th Battalion, 13th Artillery, reinforcing 1st Cavalry. Returning from overseas, he earned a Master’s Degree in math from RPI before reporting to the Department of Mathematics at West Point. After his tour at the Academy, he was assigned to Headquarters, Division Artillery, in Korea, before returning to the United States for an assignment to TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command), where he worked for the Operational Test and Evaluation, Combat Development Planning Group from 1974 to 1977. In 1977, he returned to West Point, where he served in the Office of the Dean as the Registrar until 1988, with a short break to earn his PhD from Columbia. After retiring from the Army, he took several jobs working for different civilian colleges and universities.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, and living around the world as an Army Brat. He describes his experiences at the Military Academy, highlighting several important memories. He discusses his service as an Artillery Officer, and focuses on his time working in the Dean’s Office at West Point, mentioning some of the Superintendents he worked with. He reflects on what he has done since leaving the Army, the work he does as a Class Scribe for the Class of 1962, and what his service means to him.