The list of U.S. Military Academy cadets who've served as both class president and first captain includes a Heisman Trophy-winning Rhodes Scholar, the only officer other than George Washington to be recognized as "general of the armies of the United States" … and the former junior-class president of Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, Virginia.
The positions will add to Coleman's already-packed senior schedule. Class president duties focus on the 2016 graduates and include planning the group's major events, such as "ring weekend" at the end of August. The scope widens with first captain obligations, with Coleman's responsibilities covering the entire corps, chief among them serving as a liaison between students and school leadership.
Cadet Eugene Coleman officially began his duties as the U.S. Military Academy's first captain Aug. 10.
Photo Credit: U.S. Military Academy via Twitter
He's been class president since shortly after arriving at West Point, the only school he applied to out of high school and one he "fell in love with" after a summer visit.
"I had no idea that class officers existed," Coleman said Tuesday. "I figured I'd run and see how the results came out. I didn't really go in with high expectations, considering the class barely knew each other."
First captain discussions came much later, but shortly after that process began, he said, "I wondered, at least, when this [dual leadership role] had happened before. The commandant actually mentioned … that there were only two others that had done it."
He held his West Point leadership position in high regard, quoted in the Missouri Historical Review as saying, "I would rather see my son first captain of the corps of cadets than to see him president of the United States."
Dawkins may not have risen as high as Pershing in the Army ranks, but his reputation remains well-known at West Point – Coleman called him "the ideal cadet, in everyone's eyes."
Coleman said he hopes to speak with Dawkins regarding his leadership duties, and that he's already received advice from "a lot of great officers."
"I think that's probably one of the things that stands out most to me," said Coleman, who is majoring in both economics and management and plans to branch field artillery or air defense artillery. "It's so early in the position, and I've already had so much help."
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.