The Golden Fleece


The Golden Fleece

High-Risk Adventure at West Point

Tom Carhart
Foreword by Wesley Clark

224 pages
1 illustration


September 2017


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

September 2017


$36.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

September 2017


$36.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

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Author Bio

​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.


"Carhart, a West Point graduate (1966), left the Army after several tours in Vietnam, and is now an attorney and the author of numerous books on men at war. In this rather amusing book, he reaches back to his academy days and one of the more notable pranks in its long rivalry with Annapolis; the kidnapping of the Navy’s goat mascot on November 21, 1965, as planned and successfully executed by six cadets, including himself."—Strategy Page

"West Point graduate (1966) Carhart . . . reaches back to his academy days and one of the more notable pranks in its long rivalry with Annapolis; the kidnapping of the Navy's goat mascot on November 21, 1965, by six cadets, including himself. Carhart gives us a very detailed account of the "mission", a risky undertaking punctuated by some funny moments, taking us through its genesis, planning and execution. . . . This amusing yet informative tale makes for good reading."—NYMAS Review

“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

“This lively account of the caper by six West Point cadets to nab the U.S. Naval Academy’s goat mascot before the Army-Navy football game in 1965 is infused with humor as well as drama. The book also offers acute insights into life at the U.S. Military Academy during the years that American forces were escalating their commitment to the Vietnam War.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters

“A true, bittersweet account of boys learning to be officers at West Point. Their immediate future is the war in Vietnam; their recreation is to steal Navy’s goat just before the Army-Navy game. Required reading for those who wish to wear the Army’s gray.”—Bruce Lee, coauthor of Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement 

“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)

“The tension, risk, and reward, are almost tangible. The Golden Fleece also captures, and so reminds us all of, the very high character qualities of honor, intelligence, commitment, and raw courage that are so routinely displayed by the young men and women who graduate from our national service academies every year.”—Duncan L. Hunter, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (R-California)

“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

“Tom Carhart has given us another entertaining read that I had difficulty putting down and very much hated to see come to an end. . . . He captures a great deal about the cadet cultures at the various military academies—the rigor and discipline of day-to-day cadet life, the lifelong friendships that develop through the sharing of difficult demands few young people ever experience, the culture of ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ that undergirds the ethos of the profession of arms, and the humor that is also very much a part of the lives of young military academy cadets.”—Gen. Ronald H. Griffith, U.S. Army (Ret.) and former vice chief of staff–Army

Table of Contents

1. SPNSS, 0010 hours, 21 November 1965    
2. High Aspirations    
3. Beast    
4. Plebes at Last    
5. Holiday Cheer    
6. Christmas Dinner    
7. World Politics    
8. SPNSS, 0025 Hours, 21 November 1965    
9. Buckner    
10. Cold Steel    
11. Army Field Training    
12. Yearlings    
13. Goethe    
14. SPNSS, 0030 hours, 21 November 1965    
15. Cow Year    
16. Firsty Year    
17. The Adventure Begins    
18. Recon Run    
19. Decision Time    
20. In Flight       
21. Hallelujah!    
22. Caravan Crisis    
23. Laying Low    
24. Inside Connections    
25. Time to Deliver    
26. Betrayal    
27. Falling on Our Swords    
28. The Shadow of the Guillotine    
29. The Commandant of Cadets    
30. Vietnam Veterans Memorial    
31. The Engineer    
32. Pension Asset Management    
33. Saving Apple’s Cookies    
34. Taking Baghdad      
35. Rocket Man    

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