Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson has been forced to admit that part of central plank in his personal narrative -- that the top U.S. general in the Vietnam War had guaranteed him admission and a scholarship to West Point -- was fabricated.
In fact, West Point officials, responding to a report published Friday in POLITICO, confirmed that there is no record of Carson ever applying to the elite military academy, much less gaining entrance or a scholarship offer.
But in Carson's 1996 memoir "Gifted Hands," he tells a different story: that the young Carson, a 17-year-old top ROTC officer from Detroit, had dined with Gen. William Westmoreland, who was a fresh out of his command in Vietnam, in 1969. He said Westmoreland later offered him a full scholarship. He has said in the retelling of the story that that he turned down the supposed offer because he wanted to be a doctor. He later graduated from Yale University in 1973.
A West Point spokesperson told POLITICO that that it was "certainly possible" that Carson spoke with the general, and the four-star may have even encouraged the teenager to apply, but the school has a rigorous entry process that would not have allowed Westmoreland to guarantee anyone entry. Furthermore, there are no "full scholarships" to the academy.