Dr. Ross Gagliano grew up outside of Birmingham, Alabama. His mother was a homemaker, and his father was a Band Master in Jefferson County. He grew up with three younger siblings, two brothers and a sister. As a boy, he enjoyed playing basketball and had a paper route to earn money. When he was 14, he wrote a post card to the Department of the Army, asking for a West Point admissions catalogue. His father, who was also a band leader in the Alabama National Guard, had inspired him. In the summer of 1956, his parents packed all of the children into their new 1956 Chevy station wagon and traveled to West Point for Ross’s R-Day. He recalls saying goodbye to his mother outside of Pershing Barracks (then the West Academic Building) before entering “hell.” He performed well academically and militarily, eventually being appointed Brigade Sergeant Major. He earned an athletic letter on the track team, and played basketball all four years. Upon graduation, he commissioned into the Signal Corps. His most notable assignment was with the Communications Center in Orleans, France, where he also met and married his wife Dorothy. After earning a Masters’ Degree in Physics from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, he deployed to Vietnam in 1966. He was assigned to the 14th Inventory Control Center, and was responsible for requisitioning spare parts and batteries for Army radios. Returning from Vietnam in 1967, he taught in the Department of Mathematics at West Point until 1971, when he transitioned to the Army Reserve. He then earned a Masters’ Degree (1973) and a PhD (1975) in computer science from Georgia Tech. He taught computer science at Georgia Tech from 1971 to 1985, and at Georgia State University from 1985 to 1999. His son graduated from West Point in 1987, and his grandson graduated in 2013.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his experiences at West Point, and his time in the Army. He recalls playing basketball at the Academy and learning how to play Lacrosse. He describes his assignments in the Army as a Signal Officer and his deployment to Vietnam. Finally, he discusses teaching at West Point and at civilian universities. He ends by reflecting on what West Point means to him.