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The Golden Fleece

High-Risk Adventure at West Point

Tom Carhart

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 09/2017
Pages: 224
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781612349855


In the fall of 1965 West Point cadet Tom Carhart and five of his classmates from the U.S. Military Academy pulled off a feat of extraordinary ingenuity, precision, and raw guts: the theft of the billy goat mascot from their rival, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, just before the biggest football game of the year. The U.S. forces in Vietnam were then at two hundred thousand and growing, with casualties spiking, and the men in West Point's class of 1966 were well aware that they would serve, and quite possibly die, in that far-off war. But West Point's motto, "Duty, Honor, Country," affirms that its graduates will always obey the decisions of our elected government, and the men of '66 were dutiful: of the 579 who graduated, 30 died in Vietnam and roughly five times that number were wounded. Since this would be the men's last Army-Navy football game as cadets, they wanted to go out with a bang, not a whimper. Carhart tells the incredible true story of how, in stealing that Navy goat, the cadets unknowingly reenacted the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece from Greek mythology. The caper is interwoven with an insider's narrative about the private lives of six West Point cadets in the early 1960s, who, against all odds, hurled their last hurrah of triumph to America before flying off to fight its wretched war in Vietnam. For more information about The Golden Fleece visit


​Tom Carhart is a West Point graduate and a twice-wounded Vietnam veteran. He earned a law degree from the University of Michigan and a PhD in American and military history from Princeton University and has lived and worked in Paris, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Brussels, and Washington DC. The author of eight previous books on military history, Carhart lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Jan. Wesley Clark is a retired U.S. Army four-star general, Vietnam War veteran, and valedictorian of the West Point class of '66.      


"A high-spirited, poignant story of brotherhood, sacrifice, and eternal youth. Tom Carhart takes us to the lost world of West Point more than a half century ago, and brings it back to life."—Rick Atkinson, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966  

"Think Catch-22 meets The West Point Story as cadets kidnap the Navy football mascot, a billy goat, by infiltrating a high-security area one night before the annual Army-Navy game. The problems overcome and the bittersweet results make for high drama."—Julian M. Olejniczak, author of To Be a Soldier: A Selective American Military History

"This is a fascinating firsthand portrait of an impressive group of men who attended West Point during a tragic period in our country's history."—Lucien N. Nedzi, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-Michigan)