MONTVILLE, NJ – Cadet First Captain Brigade Commander Lindsey Danilack of the United States Military Academy at West Point [USMA] is a Valley View Elementary School graduate. For the past four years -- from Plebe, to Yearling, to Cow, to Firstie -- the cadet has visited with the school’s fifth graders to talk about character, leadership, service and the West Point Honor Code.
Having been named First Captain, the highest rank that can be held at USMA, Danilack is no stranger to the qualities that comprise the distinguished institution’s Honor Code.
As First Captain, Danilack joins the list of such leaders of distinction as MacArthur, Westmoreland and Pershing. She is the fourth woman to hold West Point’s highest rank.
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit,” is the message the First Captain shared with the excited young audience.
For Danilack, attending USMA was a long standing dream that began during a family outing to West Point when she was eleven-years-old. While picnicking, she saw cadets in Combatives practice.
“I remember I was really interested in that,” Danilack recalled. “I thought it was really cool that college students could do this, so I pursued that dream.”
Seven years later, Danilack became the first student from Montville Township High School to be admitted to USMA at West Point. On June 24, 2010 she graduated from MTHS, and, four days later, on June 28, she began her college classes.
“A few years back I was sitting exactly where you are sitting,” Danilack explained to the Valley View students. She talked of the ACES program with Physical Education teacher, Len Saunders, and her other Valley View classes.
She described doing her best in all things, even when no one is looking. “You never know. You will be able to do anything you set your minds to.”
In appreciation for four years of presentations, the Valley View Student Council President and Vice President, Caroline DeFazio and Daniella Vito, presented Danilack with flowers.
Danilack’s father, Mark, a Valley View fifth grade teacher, also presented her with a plaque from the school that said, “In recognition of your leadership and dedication to the students of Valley View School and the United States of America.”
Principal Dr. Patricia J. Kennedy then quoted John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
Kennedy added, “Your actions have inspired our students all these years. Thank you for being our leader.”
As a thank you for four years of support and encouragement, Danilack presented Kennedy, the Student Council, and the school with a signed photograph from the 114th Army Navy game. As First Captain, Danilack is front and center in the frame.
Established in March of 1802, USMA did not begin admitting women until 1976. Currently, women comprise about 15% of the enrollment.
First Captain Danilack visited Valley View on May 13, 2014. On May 28, she, with 1,063 classmates, graduated USMA.
Now a Second Lieutenant, Danilack will be attending flight school and hopes to pilot Apache Helicopters.
“They are the most combat oriented helicopter,” Danilack said of the army’s twin engine utility aircraft. “They go with the ground forces.”
When asked about her goals, Danilack’s father said, “I say go for it. I think it is awesome what she is doing. I am constantly impressed by what she achieves.”
As a commissioned officer with aviation training, Danilack will serve at least eight years in the United States Army. In addition to active duty, she will also serve in the reserves. Danilack is open to the idea of ultimately serving longer.