MILLEDGEVILLE — Lackluster grades nearly cost retired Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV his appointment to West Point.

Georgia’s U.S. senators thought he wasn’t academically qualified, but Caldwell’s congressman from Columbus nominated him for the United States Military Academy.

“(Rep.) Jack Brinkley took a risk with me,” Caldwell said Thursday, on the eve of assuming the helm of Georgia Military College. “He saw in me an intense desire to serve in the military.”

The gamble paid off. Caldwell graduated second in his class and the No. 1 military cadet.

Now the 59-year-old wants to hoist others up to reach their goals.

As a boy, he had set his sights on West Point when his father taught there on the west bank of New York’s Hudson River.

He followed in the boot steps of his father and grandfather, who graduated from that prestigious school on the grounds of the nation’s oldest continuously occupied military post.

All three Caldwells completed more than three decades in the U.S. Army, with the youngest officially retiring Friday with 37 years and multiple deployments.

In February, he was selected as GMC’s 21st president to succeed retired Maj. Gen. Peter J. Boylan, but his orders only came through last week.

“I couldn’t in good faith set up my office,” the Columbus native said while still unpacking in his new office.

He unwrapped an antiquated Afghan rifle presented in 2011 upon relinquishing command of the NATO Training Mission and Combined Security Transition in Afghanistan. An Airborne 504 Devils insignia is attached to the butt end of the weapon.

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