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Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick was born on September 23, 1956 in Fukuoka, Japan. Bostick was raised in a family with a strong military background. His father was a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant; his father-in-law, a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Major; and his brother, a U.S. Army Colonel. Bostick graduated with his B.S. degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1978. He received his M.S. degree in civil engineering and his M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1985. Bostick’s military education includes the U.S. Army Engineer School, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College.

In 1978, Bostick was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant and was then assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion in Wildflecken, Germany where he served in a variety of capacities until 1982. Upon returning to the United States, Bostick studied at the U.S. Army Engineer School and Stanford University before becoming an instructor of mechanical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1985. He was also a White House Fellow in 1989 and 1990, serving as a special assistant to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In 1990, Bostick was assigned to the U.S. Army in Europe in Heidelberg, Germany, and then as an engineer operations staff officer in the First Armored Division in Baumholder and then again in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. He reported to Washington, D.C. in 1993 and served as the executive officer to the Chief of Engineers and then as battalion commander of the 1st Engineer Battalion. Bostick was deployed again from 1997 to 1999 and commanded the Engineer Brigade of the First Armored Division, which included participation in peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1999, he was assigned as executive officer to the Chief of Staff of the Army, and served on the Joint Staff during the events of September 11, 2001 in the National Military Command Center. Bostick then deployed to Iraq as assistant division commander, 1st Cavalry Division, before serving as the Commanding General of the Gulf Region Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He later served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky; and, in 2010, was named director of personnel for the Army in the Pentagon. On May 22, 2012, Bostick became the 53rd U.S. Army Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making him only the second African American to serve in that position.

Bostick’s military honors and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist badge, the Recruiter Badge, and the Ranger Tab. Bostick is also authorized to wear the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

Bostick and his wife, Renee Bostick, live in Washington, D.C. They have one son, Joshua.

Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 9, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/9/2013

Last Name

Bostick

Maker Category
Middle Name

Paul

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Stanford University

United States Military Academy

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Thomas

Birth City, State, Country

Fukuoka

HM ID

BOS02

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Monterey, California

Favorite Quote

Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that upon other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory. - General Douglas MacArthur

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/23/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

Japan

Favorite Food

Rice

Short Description

Lieutenant general Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick (1956 - ) was appointed as the 53rd Chief of Engineers and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2012, making him only the second African American to serve in that position.

Employment

United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

United States Army

United States Army Recruiting Command

Delete

Operation Joint Forge, Bosnia-Herzegovina

1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized).

National Military Command Center, J-3, the Joint Staff in the Pentagon

United States Military Academy

Favorite Color

Fire Engine Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thomas Bostick's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick describes his mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick describes his mother's family background, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about his mother and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about his brother inheriting their father's athletic ability

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick talks about his parents' marriage and personalities, and his five siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Thomas Bostick describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about his father's military service and his academic performance in school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick lists the places he lived during his father's military service and recalls his uncle from Brooklyn

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick discusses re-connecting with his uncle as a cadet at West Point

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick discusses his experiences and education in the places he lived during his father's military service

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about playing sports and breaking his leg on a Boy Scout camping trip in junior high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick recalls his father's retirement from the military and his third grade teacher, Miss Vernon

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about his brother, Anthony, and his high school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about playing sports in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick discusses the reasons for Seaside California's violence and his high school football team

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his nomination to attend West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick describes his high school's racial demographics and talks about his own racial identity

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick discusses studying engineering at West Point

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick describes his initial arrival at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about shining his boots at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick talks about what his father thought of him attending West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his and his wife's different personalities

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick talks about attending ranger school at West Point

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick describes how a cheating scandal changed military training and education at West Point, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick describes how a cheating scandal changed military training and education at West Point, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick reflects on how the environment at West Point may have led to the cheating scandal, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick reflects on how the environment at West Point may have led to the cheating scandal, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Thomas Bostick talks about the first black graduate of West Point, Henry O. Flipper

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Thomas Bostick reflects on his experience as an African American engineer officer

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Thomas Bostick talks about his mentors at West Point

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Thomas Bostick recalls the selection process for army infantry and engineers, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Thomas Bostick recalls the selection process for army infantry and engineers, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Thomas Bostick discusses his graduation from West Point in 1978

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Thomas Bostick talks about shifts in public support of the U.S. military

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Thomas Bostick talks about attitudinal shifts in public support of the U.S. military

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Thomas Bostick talks about deciding to attend West Point instead of the U.S. Air Force Academy, pt.2
Thomas Bostick talks about the first black graduate of West Point, Henry O. Flipper
Transcript
So I had a lot of encouragement from the army; and then my friend Steve Torez (ph.) came by the high school and I said "Steve, I'm really struggling; I think I wanna go to the Air Force Academy but what's West Point like?" He said "Don't come to West Point." And he was a (unclear), you know, so (laughter)--which means he was in his first year, so he's getting abused like all get-out (laughter). And, and I remember sitting there in the quad at Seaside High School eating lunch, and he and I are speaking; I remember it really well because a seagull flew over and went to the bathroom right on my hand, right here (DEMONSRATION) (laughter), you know, somethin' dropped from the sky on my hand, so it was one of those moments that I'll never forget, and him telling me not to come. So I had him telling me not to come, and you know you trust your peers; the generals and the colonels and the sergeant majors telling me to come--my heart really wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and the Air Force finally sent somebody; they sent a guy that had gone to Air Force ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps], and my mom [Fumiko Mary Taira Bostick] put this white lace on the dining room table. She had a cup of coffee and he had this slide show of the Air Force Academy, and he said "One of the things you need to understand, Tom, is that the Air Force Academy is really hard; I mean it's very demanding." And he said "It's an all-male school," and he said "If you want other things like to have--not as demanding, but just go to a school that you have--you could go to ROTC; you know, if you want a social life, that's kind of what I went through." And I'm sitting here saying "You're supposed to be talking me into the Air Force Academy, not talking to me about ROTC." And then he reached for the coffee and knocked it over (laughter) on my mom's white lace and, and I said "Gosh." So I sat and I stewed from February until the fifth of May; the fifth of May I think was the last date you had to decide, and I, I just decided to go to West Point. I, I, I liked the history, I, I liked the people that had gone through there and, and, and I knew--it seemed comforting, they had reached out to me, and--years later I would tell my recruiters because it turned the other way with my son [Joshua Bostick]; my son was born when I was at Stanford [University], going to grad school, and then we went to West Point to teach. And when my son was this small (DEMONSTRATION), he was, he was gonna be a cadet at West Point; he was--that's where he was going. And then between junior and senior year, he went to the cadet camp up there in--it's a week-long school, maybe two weeks, and about thirty percent of the kids that go to that end up going to West Point. He got accepted early, Valedictorian of his class, and captain of the golf team and did very well in school; great SAT scores, and he really didn't have anyone reaching out to him from West Point and I didn't know if they were expecting me to do that; I think a captain called him once, but other than that, there was no one reaching out. And then Stanford asked--said "Hey, we'll pay for your plane ticket to fly out to Stanford. We, we got a week of, you know, scheduled classes and we want you to this, we want you to live in the dorms and--" you know, so they wined and dined him and he ended up going to Stanford. And, again it reinforced to me the importance of continuing to reach out, not forcing but mentoring youngsters because they're really to decide--and reaching out to their parents. So as the Head of Recruiting Command, I realized from my own personal experiences and watching my son go through the same thing how important that constant mentoring, not over-burdening them and, and not being oppressive in, in the presence and the encouragement but at least showing that you really care.$Okay, so considering how tough [United States Academy at] West Point is period, and how would a person like Henry O. Flipper, back in the Nineteenth Century, the first black graduate of West Point, have made it? Now he's one of your heroes, an engineer as well, right?$$Well, I think for all Americans, Henry O. Flipper is a great role model of persistence, of leadership, of character, and whether you're African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, or any ethnicity or gender, he represents someone that, that graduated from West Point during a very difficult time for him and really was a, a role model for many of us. I, I can't say that I could even partially appreciate how difficult it must have been for him because a lot of what happens at West Point during my day in once success is really based on partnership and team work with your peers; you study together, you, you, you drill together, you spend time away together but, but it's a family and, and to be any place where you feel like you're alone, I, I, I can't even begin to partially imagine what that would be like, and then to get through it and be successful and then to have what happened to him in the military I think sends a strong statement of the strength of the human character of Henry O. Flipper. I did get a sense of what it might have been like, I'd say in just a partial way, by watching the first females come to West Point. I was there when our superintendent and many leaders at the Academy voiced their opinions, very strong opinions, that women should not come to West Point for a variety of reasons, and then when the decision was made that they would come, we were intent on making the women at West Point the best of all the academies. But that being said, it was very, very difficult for those first women, and some of my class mates and other males were, were thrown outta West Point for their behavior against those women who were the pioneers of Women Service Academy graduates. And when you look back at the women and what they've done, from lieutenants up to general officers and the All-American athletes, Rhodes Scholars, number one in the class at West Point, you name it--all the different things that, that women have done, it makes you regret the many years that we lost and think about what could have happened with leaders, with athletes, what scholars we could have had had that, that law been changed earlier. So, so the good news is we've, we've transitioned, we've come a long way; but in my mind, we still have a very long way to go, a very long way to go. My--I, I never thought about this until years later as I, I would look around the room myself, as an African American engineer, that there were not many African American engineers coming outta West Point. And then I looked at the four years that I was there, and this is the number one institution in the world in my mind, and in many others. But I was the only one in my class and there were none in '77' [1977], there were two in '76' [1976], and there were none in '75' [1975]. So 4,000 or so graduates plus or minus a few hundred, and the number one engineering institution produces three Corps of Engineer Officers that are African American.