“West Point Was A Golden Ticket”: A Flipper Award Recipient On Hard Work And Dedication

Markus Wright


Markus Wright was born in 1997 and grew up in Thomaston and Columbus, Georgia. His step-father was a medical laboratory technician, and his mother worked for the Columbus Lions indoor football team. He was an only child who grew up “playing catch by myself.” He lived in a neighborhood where he and many of his friends lived near the poverty line or had experienced homelessness. Even so, his mother and step-father worked hard to provide Markus with a better life. He grew up interested in sports, participating in football, basketball, and taekwondo. His high school football coach, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, introduced Markus to the idea of attending West Point, and he was accepted into the United States Military Academy Preparatory School. He called his year at USMAPS “the best year of my life,” appreciating the diversity of the student body. During his second semester, he was assigned as Company First Sergeant. He considered his West Point R-Day very easy, and Beast Barracks helped him create his West Point family. He played football his Plebe (freshman) year, but left the team to focus on academics, earning Dean’s List honors three times as he pursued a business degree. Militarily, he was assigned as a Platoon Leader during his final semester and also served as his company’s Trust Representative, building a company family and making everyone feel welcome. Physically, he felt that his time spent playing football set him up for success in other areas like combatives and boxing. He enjoyed the culture of West Point, remarking that “everyone wants to be a part of a family” before noting that the Academy offered that opportunity. He also expected to be challenged every day, and West Point fulfilled his expectations. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020, he was on a spring break trip with his fiancée in the Bahamas. Returning to the United States, he was able to quarantine with her in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being on spring break, he had none of his academic materials with him, so his Tactical Officer mailed him what he needed to complete classes. Away from West Point, he maintained his physical fitness by going on frequent runs around Vegas. Although he enjoyed his time away from the Academy, he was looking forward to his Firstie (senior) year, and he felt that the administration prepared the Cadets well for their return to USMA. At West Point, he received the “Flipper Award” (named for Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American graduate of West Point), which recognizes the Cadet who has overcome the greatest adversity. Markus received the award for overcoming challenges during his youth. His mother frequently had to work two jobs to provide for Markus, and he lost several friends to gun violence. Markus is now working to establish a scholarship in his hometown to help underprivileged youths succeed. In this interview, Markus talks about his childhood and his experiences at West Point. He plans to marry his fiancée the day after graduation and moving to Georgia. He advises current and future Cadets to “never doubt yourself,” and encourages hard work and dedication. Reflecting on West Point, he says it “saved my life,” and explains how the Flipper Award is about representation.


topics African American Military Experience Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 11 May 2021


name Markus Wright
institution USMA
graduation year 2021
service Signal Corps
specialty Flipper Award
service dates 2019