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Eyes turn to Petraeus

June 27, 2010

U.S. General Dave Petraeus was picked to oversee the war in Afghanistan. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Last week’s dust-up in Washington/Afghanistan/the pages of Rolling Stone left the messy war in Afghanistan suddenly in the hands of General David Petraeus, who already had his hands full, you’d assume, with rebuilding and securing Iraq. Americans will begin hearing his name a lot more often now, I think, although Petraeus has been down this road before.

I knew a little bit about Gen. Petraeus — mostly the drama surrounding his testimony during the Bush years — when I bumped into him at West Point last fall before Army’s football game against Vanderbilt (a stunning overtime upset that sent the Corps storming the field and lifting kicker Alex Carlton onto their shoulders after a game-winning field goal).

I hadn’t realized that Petraeus is from Cornwall, NY, which isn’t far from me or West Point. A few months ago I was driving my way back from New Paltz, en route to West Point to shoot a baseball game, when I found myself literally driving on the General David H. Petraeus Highway in Orange County. I thought — boy, they must really like this guy, for some reason. Guess why?

General Petraeus poses with West Point cadets in Michie Stadium. (Danny Wild/USMA)

Petraeus seemed like a pretty humble, friendly guy at West Point when I came across him before that game last September. He posed with cadets, shook hands and was essentially a celebrity on the sidelines, the cadets, the coaches, everyone in awe of this man with a uniform almost completely covered with medals and achievements.

Petraeus recently gave the graduation speech at Cornwall High School (amidst protesters I heard) and also spoke to Purple Heart recipients in New Windsor, my man Phil Strum covered that event for my old friends at the Poughkeepsie Journal.

I don’t suspect we’ll be seeing Petraeus at Michie Stadium anytime soon, unless it’s a video message about beating Navy. But for someone who’s now going to be closely monitored for remaining apolitical, he may not even want to go near the Army-Navy rivalry.

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Danny Wild is a reporter and photographer for MLB.com. He volunteers as a photographer at West Point. This blog in no way reflects the views of MLB or USMA.

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