WEST POINT, N.Y. — U.S. Military Academy Class of 2019 Cadet David Bindon, Company H-1 from Canton, Michigan, was selected First Captain, or Brigade Commander, on Aug. 8 for the 2018-19 academic year.
Bindon, a mechanical engineering major, is responsible for roughly 4,400 members of the U.S. Corps of Cadets. Bindon recently completed commanding 1,408 cadets as commander of Cadet Field Training II. Bindon assumed the position of First Captain Aug. 13.
“I was never a person growing up with the thought that I would go to West Point,” Bindon said. “It wasn’t until my junior year in high school when I started looking into colleges that I thought about it; it was on my radar. My dad graduated West Point in 1989, but he didn’t talk about it much. He was really good about not pushing me to join the military. He did tell me that it is a challenging opportunity and throughout my life growing up, my dad did instill the meaning of challenge to me.”
When Bindon was 6 years old, his dad was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and he watched his dad go through that challenge with grit and perseverance, eventually overcoming the disease.
“He also had a career transition from working at Ford for 20 years and then became a high school physics teacher, and he overcame that challenge,” Bindon said. “He was my high school physics teacher. Dad is optimistic through challenges and that is why West Point was attractive to me. I knew it would be a challenge.”
Today, Bindon said he is open to making the military a career, but currently is applying for a few scholarships in hopes of furthering his education.
He is also considering Aviation, so he wants to take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to him.
One of the scholarships he is eyeing is the Rhodes Scholarship.
“With the Rhodes Scholarship, there is a degree that I want to pursue — philosophy, politics and economics, and I already will have an undergraduate degree so it will be easy to get a masters,” Bindon said. “My focus there is the fact that times are changing as is our approach to war. We will need critical leaders, critical thinkers and military leadership for the future.”
Although Bindon is First Captain and will have additional responsibilities, he still needs to maintain his grades and work toward graduation as do all cadets.
“I have heard from Simone (Askew, last year’s First Captain) that it’s one of the hardest things to do, either you don’t get much sleep or you fall by the wayside,” Bindon said. “My main focus is to maintain decent academics and focus on developing the Corps and making sure we are all set up. My vision is that the Corps understands that we are all a team and working together.
“We all have the same goal; that of commissioning leaders of character,” he added. “I want to set conditions where the Corps is proud of being a team, proud to work alongside one another and will fight for one another and take care of one another.”
Bindon said his approach as First Captain is leading through his regimental commanders, to empower them to make good decisions for the vision for the Corps.
“I still have those touch points to the Corps by walking through the barracks and talking to them, to show some faith and let them know that I care about them and let them know that they can come to me if they have problems with their team leaders,” Bindon said. “I like to say that with a little guidance and a little trust, cadets will do awesome things, people will do awesome things, so I try to provide as much empowerment and trust in my team leaders as they need to run their units; to run it as they see fit (within the confines of their responsibilities). I just want to give them the opportunity to lead as well and to show personal care.”
However, before becoming First Captain, he did cut his leadership teeth during Cadet Field Training, or CFT. Bindon described how involved and hectic the selection process was for cadet leadership positions during the summer.
“The first step is to put your name in the hat through your tactical officer,” Bindon said. “The way it worked for me, my tactical officer, Capt. Gerald Gorss, 3rd Regimental executive officer, approached me, and at the time I had a slot for Sapper School so I had to think about it. But I always looked up to Capt. Gorss, and with his encouragement and mentorship, he made me feel confident, so I put my name into the ring. There’s also a regimental board you have to go through and it’s combined with previous evaluations.
“From there, they will put you in a group and then you will go into a brigade board,” he added. “They brought us all in a room and we watched everyone do their boards at the same time, but it wasn’t like a super stern conversation — it was good.”
From the brigade board, a decision is made for the selection for a summer leadership position. Bindon was selected for CFT II commander.
“I got to know who was on my team and we did some team building before we went into CFT,” Bindon explained. “I was just happy that I had a real good team behind me; it was my first time doing this.”
Bindon described his goal for CFT by remembering what Col. William Ostlund, director of the Department of Military Instruction, said in that the goal of CFT is to build “near perfect team leaders.”
“The goal was to transition our rising yearlings, or fourth-class cadets, into third-class cadets,” Bindon explained. “What we (as CFT leaders) wanted to instill in them was that they don’t have to be ‘buddy, buddy’ with plebes, but they could have a good professional relationship.
“It is tough, the transition from being a fourth-class cadet to a team leader is quick,” he concluded, “They generally have one or two plebes they look after for their introduction to leadership. I had two plebes in my first semester and I worried that I would be running around all the time, but it wasn’t that bad.
Pictured above: Class of 2019 Cadet David Bindon was selected as Brigade Commander, or First Captain, Aug. 8, 2018. Bindon hails from Canton, Mich., and is a mechanical engineering major and recently led 1,408 rising yearlings as commander of Cadet Field Training II. He is now responsible for roughly 4,400 members of the U.S. Military Academy Corps of Cadets.