“I Wanted To Change The World”: Idealism And Character At West Point

Les Kayanan


Les Kayanan grew up in a military family. His father had been a guerrilla commander in the Philippines during World War II before transitioning to the United States Army. Les enlisted in the Army after a year of college and became a Morse Code operator. He wanted to finish college and continue to serve in the military, and jumped at the chance to attend the prep-school. He entered West Point with the Class of ’77 and branched Infantry upon graduation. After his time in the military, he became a financial planner and a management consultant before earning a PhD and returning to the military to work for TRADOC. In this interview, Les talks about growing up in an Army family, his passion for boxing and singing, and attending West Point. He discusses attending the Defense Race Relations Institute to become a peer counselor as the academy was preparing to introduce women into the Class of 1980. He describes dealing with prejudice in the military, and the importance of character. Finally, he talks about what West Point means to him.


conflicts Iraq War
topics Honor USMA 1977 Spring 1976 Cheating Incident Women in Service Race in the Military West Point History
interviewer David Siry
date 05 October 2017


name Les Kayanan
institution USMA
graduation year 1977
service Infantry
service dates 1977 1995