West Pointers Helm Response To Train Derailment

To LTG Robert Caslen, Superintendent, United States Military Academy


I would like to bring to your attention that during the train derailment in Washington state yesterday (18 Dec), two West Point graduates were at the helm of the first and immediate response.

This incident took place on I-5 just south of JBLM.  JBLM has responsibility for emergencies on that stretch of the interstate.  The area is also just south of the small town of DuPont, WA.  JBLM was one of the first, if not the first, responders to the scene and was in command of the incident for the initial crucial hours immediately following the incident and before handing over command to Pierce County.  The Garrison Commander of JBLM is COL Nicole Lucas, USMA ’93.  The senior public official responding from DuPont was the mayor of DuPont, Mayor Mike Courts, USMA ’81.  You might remember him as the Master of Ceremony at the West Point Society of Washington and Puget Sound Founders Day Banquet you addressed two years ago.

The leadership and experience of these two West Pointers was significant for the immediate action, for what was needed.  The JBLM golf course was used as an emergency vehicle staging area from which resources could be brought forward in a timely manner.  About 20 patients were seen at Madigan Army Medical Center, MPs responded to the incident and the transportation assets were mobilized to help move survivors to a reunification area (to say the least).  We hear often in the news how awesome JBLM has been and now has rerouted traffic through the post as the interstate was completely blocked to southbound traffic.

The city hall of DuPont was used as the reunification area and under the mayor’s guidance was well prepared for media, support to first responders and an outpouring of community support.  Mayor Courts has been on the phone with the White House, Governor, County Execs, Senators and anyone else you can imagine.

COL Lucas has deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and Kuwait.  In one of the many interviews with Mayor (Retired COL) Courts, the reporter asked, “Mayor, you are very calm, doesn’t this upset you?”  He replied “I was at the Pentagon on 9-11, I spent 2 tours in Bosnia and 2 tours in Iraq.  I am saddened over this tragedy, but no, this will not upset or frighten me.”  As you can see, both had plenty of experience in responding to situations like this.

Just thought you might like to hear some great news that graduates are doing in service to the country in uniform and after active duty

Grip Hands and beat San Diego State!

Kent Troy
USMA ‘81