Finding Love Again After Tragedy: An Army Spouse On West Point And Family

Deb Alitz


Deb (Harrington) Alitz was born in 1955 and grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, with her stepfather and mother. She was involved in a variety of activities as a young girl, including bowling (still a passion today), softball, volleyball, basketball, and cheerleading. In high school, she worked part time at Montgomery Ward. She met her future husband, Richard Lee Vincent, USMA 74, at dinner one evening between his Cow and Firstie year. She had gone out with some girlfriends and Rick was one of a group of West Pointers at the restaurant. For their first date, Deb’s mom imposed a strict curfew. Shortly after they met, Rick went to Airborne School and CTLT (Cadet Troop Leader Training) in Hawaii, but he called Deb as soon as he returned to West Point at the end of the summer. The two began dating and were married after his graduation at the Catholic Chapel; she was 19. They were married 16 years, had a son and a daughter, and were stationed in Colorado, Alabama, Germany, Kentucky, California, Maryland, Kansas, and Virginia. Rick was an Army Aviator, and Deb worked different jobs depending on where they were stationed. At one point she worked at NASA, where she was a typist for 11 different engineers. During one of the Space Shuttle Missions, she worked directly with the White House Staff. She was also an extra in the movie “The Right Stuff,” and shared a trailer with Chuck Yeager. On November 26, 1990, the doorbell rang at midnight, and she was notified that Rick had died in a training accident. Rick’s unit was so supportive that she remained in Virginia near Ft. Eustice, attending college on the G.I. Bill to become a Social Worker. She met Curt Alitz taking her daughter to a medical appointment, and two of Rick’s friends encouraged her to date him. Curt asked her out to lunch, and eventually the two were married at the Cadet Chapel. They lived at Ft. Bragg and then spent the last 13 years of his career at West Point before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia. In this interview, she talks about her childhood and marrying her two loves, Rick Vincent and Curt Alitz. She reflects on her life as an Army spouse, highlighting the different opportunities she had at various posts. She describes being notified of Rick’s death. She recalls meeting Curt Alitz years later, and Rick’s friends encouraging her to date again. She discusses her life with Curt and living at West Point. Finally, she shares what being an Army spouse and West Point mean to her.


topics Military Family West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 13 October 2023


name Deb Alitz
specialty Army Spouse