Proud American

West Point alum follows great grandfather, a century after he graduated military academy

A recent West Point graduate is continuing his family's legacy, graduating 100 years after his great grandfather, the first Chinese man to graduate from the U.S. Military academy.

According to the World Journal, Alexander Kozlowski’s great grandfather, Ying Hsing Wen, was the first Chinese graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. Wen left his hometown of Toyshan, China, to attend West Point. He graduated in 1909 and continued to work his way up to lieutenant general. After graduation, Wen served as the English secretary of Sun Yat-Sen, the president of Tsinghua University, and the general manager of tax police before becoming a legislator of China. He retired at age 51.

Kozlowski will be deployed to Fort Bragg, N.C., in August and hopes to live up to the high expectations he has set for himself. Following graduation, Kozlowski said, “what I really want right now is to get on to Ranger school and finally meet my first platoon.” Kozlowski never got to meet his great grandfather, who died in 1968, but feels pressured to lead as successful a career as Wen did. “I fulfilled my dream of joining the military. I hope I can make my great grandfather proud,” said Kozlowski.

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The legacy of his great grandfather led Kozlowski to West Point academy. “I think that my family history opened the door for me, but it was the drive to serve my nation and the call of the Army that actually pulled me through it,” Kozlowski told Fox News. Kozlowski majored in Chinese language, and through rigorous academic and military training, he worked to serve of the memory of his great grandfather. For a time a picture of Wen in uniform was Kozlowski’s cellphone wallpaper. Kozlowski and his family also makes yearly visits to Wen’s grave at the West Point cemetery.

Kozlowski is the son of Georgia Chao, a granddaughter of Wen, and Steven Kozlowski, of Poland. Chao was hesitant when Kozlowski wanted to apply to West Point and worried about a career in the military, but thought he made the right choice following his graduation. 

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This year was West Point’s 219th graduation ceremony. The graduating class of 2017 included 936 students, 60 of whom were Asian. Graduates came from 49 of the 50 states (not including North Dakota), as well as Afghanistan, Jordan, Latvia, Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Thailand. The last student to come from mainland China was Po-sheng Yen, who graduated in 1937.

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