“Completing The Circle Of Life”: A Jewish Lay Leader On Service And Giving Back

Terry Bresnick


Terry Bresnick, the oldest of three children, grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, in what he considered a “conserva-dox” Jewish home. He attended Hebrew school, and sometimes hung out in a tavern his grandfather ran. He was aware of the Military and Naval Academies through TV series about those schools and the Red Reeder books, but planned on attending a civilian university. A bet with a high school classmate that he could not get accepted at an Academy prompted him to apply. At West Point, he felt challenged by the rigors of the program, but still excelled. He joined the fencing team, learning a lifetime sport that he later coached and practiced until recently. Continuing his faith journey, he served as a lay leader in the Jewish congregation and sang with the choir. He commissioned as an Air Defense Officer, and his first assignment was with a Hawk Battery at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, providing an Air Defense umbrella against communist Cuba. In 1970, he deployed to Vietnam and was initially assigned to 5-2 Field Artillery, providing base and convoy fire support with Quad .50s and Dusters. He was eventually selected to be the Aide-de-Camp for the Chief of Staff for II Field Force, BG Roberts, and finished his tour in that capacity. Returning from Vietnam, he commanded a Hawk Advanced Individual Training Battery at Ft. Bliss, earning recognition for having the best battery at the school. In 1973, he entered Stanford University to earn a Masters’ Degree prior to returning to West Point in 1975 to teach in the Engineering Department. After leaving West Point in 1978, he was stationed in Greece with a nuclear Air Defense unit in the 558th Artillery Group until he transitioned to the Reserves in 1979. He then completed an Engineering Degree from Stanford and entered the business world, where he succeeded in his second career in operations research consulting. In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences at West Point and in the Army, and his business career. He discusses the importance of his Jewish faith and the Jewish community in his life, and how he continues to give back to the Jewish Chapel. He describes his deployment to Vietnam, and returning to West Point to teach. He recalls coaching the fencing team and the enjoyment it gave him. He highlights his business career, explaining how he incorporated things he learned at West Point and in the Army into the culture he created in the private sector. Finally, he reflects on what his service and West Point mean to him.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Camaraderie Jewish Military Experience West Point History Morale Courage Business
interviewer David Siry
date 15 January 2019


name Terry Bresnick
institution USMA
graduation year 1969
service Air Defense Artillery
unit 5-2 Field Artillery; II Field Force
specialty Jewish Chapel Choir
service dates 1969 1979