“An Army Grinder”: Putting In The Reps As A West Point Athlete And Doctor

Curt Alitz


Curt Alitz was born in 1955 and spent his childhood living at West Point, where his father was the wrestling coach from 1954 to 1999. His mother loved West Point and was a long-time AOG (Association of Graduates) employee. Curt grew up in a family of five with three brothers and a sister. His oldest brother graduated from West Point in 1964. Curt grew up outdoors and loved athletics and scouting. A self-described nerd, he says, “Athletics saved me socially.” He attended West Point elementary and middle schools and was in the 2nd class to graduate from the recently built O’Neill High School. His heroes and role models were Cadets, and getting to know them sparked an interest in attending West Point. Following a year at a prep school in Pennsylvania, he entered West Point in the summer of 1974 with the Class of 78. R-Day was stressful but fun, and he vividly remembers encountering the “man in the red sash.” He enjoyed being in the woods, and compared Beast and Buckner to “boy scout camp with guns.” He did well in academics, especially the first two years, and was inspired by Dr. John Feagan to become a doctor. By his Firstie year he was the Brigade S4 (Supply Officer). He considers himself a “grinder” physically and excelled at anything that did not rely on a fast twitch muscle. He began his athletic career at West Point swimming and running, but after a few years focused on track and cross country. He also taught Sunday School and participated in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After commissioning as an Engineer Officer, he remained at West Point as a Grad Assistant, assisting with the Corps Squad athletic teams. In 1985, he graduated from Duke University Medical School, beginning a career in Army Medicine, where he served as a family practice primary care physician, a flight surgeon, and an orthopedic surgeon. In 1996 he married Deb, whose husband had been killed in a 1990 training accident (aircraft). For much of his career, he was stationed at either Ft. Bragg or at West Point, where he considered it an honor and a privilege to work with Cadets. Since his retirement, he has continued working part time, serving and caring for others. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point memories, and his experiences as an Army doctor. He recalls the joys of childhood living at the Military Academy, and remembers adventures in the neighborhood with numerous children, including the Riley kids. He describes the cheating scandal in the spring of 1976, and the introduction of women to the Academy later that summer. He highlights running for West Point and some of the races he was in. He discusses his medical career, noting that orthopedic docs keep Soldiers in the fight. He reflects on his service and on West Point, stating that serving one’s country is a noble profession, being a physician is noble, and West Point is where our nation’s best can grow and excel. In 2008, he was inducted into the West Point Sports Hall of Fame (in 2016, his father LeRoy was also inducted into the Army Sports Hall of Fame). Finally, at the end of the interview, he reflects on some of the people he has served with.


topics Military Medicine Army Athletics West Point History Military Family
interviewer David Siry
date 22 September 2023


name Curt Alitz
institution USMA
graduation year 1978
service Engineer / Medical
specialty Orthopedic Surgeon / Runner
service dates 1978 2018