This article first appeared in the February 16th, 2012 edition of the Vermont Standard.
By Audrey Richardson
Special To The Standard
HARTLAND — These days, John Bassette of Hartland is beaming with pride. Not only was Bassette’s son Joshua recently accepted at West Point, but Joshua is the fourth of Bassette’s four oldest sons to attend the school.
“He has always wanted to go and nothing so far has dampened or squelched that enthusiasm,” said Bassette about his son.
“It is definitely a long goal finally met,” said Josh Bassette about his acceptance.
The West Point tradition started with Bassette’s oldest son, John. John was interested in the military and his father was interested in getting him an education. West Point became common ground for the two and John went on to thrive at the Army school graduating in 2010. Josh Bassette remembered this as an incredibly formative time, watching his brother’s experience.
“When he was about 11 or 12 he went to an Army football game and fell in love,” said Bassette about his son’s early affinity for the school. After this experience, Josh spoke with a Cadet recruiter about what he would need to do in order to follow in his brother’s footsteps and the Cadet told Josh to join the Boy Scouts. Josh is now an Eagle Scout and found that his experience with the Boy Scouts helped him prepare to be a cadet. “Scouting was definitely important. We built each other up and learned a lot about leadership,” said Josh.
In the time between those early years and when oldest brother John attended West Point two other brothers Joel and James followed suit. Joel will graduate this spring and James will graduate in 2014. John the eldest graduate of West Point, is now in charge of an infantry platoon in Afghanistan and is decorated with both ranger and sapper tabs.
Joel’s focus is language as he is graduating with a degree in Arabic and Spanish. James, the youngest brother currently at West Point, is a top notch Nordic skier and ranked 6rd in his class for physical fitness. “They’ve set the bar high,” said Josh about his brothers.
Bassette says he’s proud of all his sons and said that the last thing he would want to do is shape their decision and that all of his sons have come to this decision on their own. In all, Bassette has nine children, with two younger sons after Josh who have already shown interest in West Point. “I am very proud of all my boys, they are all fine young men and they are enthusiastic about the choices they’ve made,” said Bassette.
Bassette says that people often mistake his family history for a long line of West Point cadets, but he admits he can’t really take credit for the influence. Although Bassette is not a West Point alum himself, he did have a semi-famous relative who graduated in 1929. General Frank D. Merrill, known to history buffs as “Merrill’s Marauders” left such a mark that he even had a comic book penned after him.
While preparing to follow in his brothers’ footsteps, Josh still needs to finish out the rest of the school year. “He’ll make a great leader and he’ll be great under fire,” said Bassette about his son’s even keel personality. Although Josh has been homeschooled from a young age he now takes some classes, such as AP Calculus at Woodstock Union High School and is captain of the Nordic ski team. Most recently, Josh received a call from representative Peter Welch to congratulate him on the honor. “Josh came back to the dinner table with a big smile after that,” said Bassette.
When all is said and done, Josh Bassette is thankful for the path his brothers have paved and now he is ready to walk it on his own.