Ben Carson Admits to Fabricating Story About West Point Admission and Scholarship

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson - H 2015
Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

The republican frontrunner's campaign concedes that a seminal moment in his personal narrative — described in detail in his best-selling memoir, 'Gifted Hands' — is untrue.

Ben Carson's campaign has admitted that a key event in the presidential candidate's celebrated personal narrative was fabricated. In response to an inquiry by Politico, the campaign concedes that Carson never applied, nor was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His assertion that he was awarded a full scholarship was also untrue.

Carson told the story of his West Point acceptance in his best-selling memoir Gifted Hands, detailing that in 1969 when he was 17, Carson met Gen. William Westmoreland, just after the general had returned from commanding forces in Vietnam. The two men shared a meal together, and following that meeting, Carson was offered a "full scholarship" to the academy.

But West Point has no record of Carson applying or being extended admission.

"In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General," Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy, told Politico. "If he chose to pursue (the application process) then we would have records indicating such."

Carson would have needed to have been nominated by a member of Congress or another recognized government or military official. The nomination then begins a rigorous vetting process. Furthermore, once admitted, the academy covers all costs; West Point essentially offers "full scholarships" to all applicants, not as a special honor to particular students.

When faced with the allegation, the Carson campaign admitted that the story was false.

"Dr. Carson was the top ROTC student in the City of Detroit," Barry Bennett, Carson's campaign manager wrote in an email to Politico. "In that role he was invited to meet General Westmoreland. He believes it was at a banquet. He can’t remember with specificity their brief conversation but it centered around Dr. Carson’s performance as ROTC City Executive Officer."

"He was introduced to folks from West Point by his ROTC Supervisors," Bennett went on. "They told him they could help him get an appointment based on his grades and performance in ROTC. He considered it but in the end did not seek admission."