Recognition of the “Goat” or “Anchorman”

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Hayley Wihongi
  • 944th Mission Support Group deputy commander

I recently learned about a West Point and Naval Academy tradition. During each graduation ceremony, achievement of outstanding cadets is recognized. The recognition category that caught my attention, was not for being Summa or Magna Cum Laude, or Valedictorian, but rather recognition
of the “Goat” or “Anchorman,” the last academically ranked Cadet of their class.

Part of the tradition involves the recipient receiving a dollar from each their peers. Most of the time, the cheers and heartfelt accolades given to the “Goat”/”Anchorman” is more than those recognized for academic prowess. Last year’s graduating class at West Point gave $1000 to the “Goat”/”Anchorman” recipient.

You may wonder why this idea of recognizing the lowest, academically ranking cadet is so extraordinary to me. The story of the conquering underdogs inspires me – maybe it’s because I can identify with them (Rocky and Cinderella). When my family and I immigrated to the United States from New Zealand we started with few worldly goods. We were taught to work hard and to get an education and that you could do and be anything you want.

It’s not a new story, but it’s why my dad brought us to the U.S. I guess being an immigrant doesn’t necessarily make you an underdog. It’s more like I feel like I have had to make the most of the great opportunities I have had living in this country.

So I am awed by them - those men and woman, who despite the odds and systems they found themselves in, displayed character traits of perseverance, resilience, and grit despite HARD trials. Our Air Force heritage is built on typical people acting and not being acted upon. The strength that the “Goats” and “Anchormen” bring to the game is priceless.