The story of how Texas volunteers and companies rally every year to bring a piece of the Lone Star State to West Point cadets.
In 2002, Cadet Powell made a call home from West Point to his dad 1,400 miles away in Texas to deliver the dire news. He wasn’t failing classes. He didn’t have frostbite (yet). He didn’t need money. But he was ailing from something without a simple cure. He was suffering from an acute lack of Tex-Mex.
Doug Powell then did what any true Texan would do for his son stationed in faraway upstate New York. He packed 80 dozen tamales in dry ice and headed for the airport. When he told a representative from the airline what he was shipping to his son and why, the representative (no doubt a native Texan as well) immediately understood the seriousness of the situation. “Just put ‘em in the plane,” he said. No charge, no further explanation needed. That very first tamale shipment from Texas was delivered to cadets under a tent on Buffalo Soldier Field at West Point, near the historic Thayer Hotel.
From that original mission of culinary mercy the Texas Tamale Tailgate was born. Now commonly called T3, the transport of Tex-Mex and barbecue from Texas to West Point is an annual post-football game event hosted by Texas parents for Texas cadets and their fortunate friends. It has evolved into one of the largest, most significant events that the combined West Point parents’ clubs of Texas host, with planning and preparation undertaken throughout the year. Housed in the ‘49er Lodge (an amazing gift from the West Point class of 1949 to the United States Military Academy) a short walk from Michie Stadium, T3 has drawn a steady stream of cadets seeking a taste of home one Saturday afternoon every October since 2002.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of big-hearted Texas companies looking out for the well-being of the state’s native sons and daughters at West Point, the event has grown to serve anywhere from 600-800 cadets and guests, and virtually everything needed for this Texas-sized party is donated free of charge. From one dad answering the call, an army of volunteers and iconic Texas companies and sports teams now join forces to let cadets from Houston to Dallas and from El Paso to Beaumont know that even though they are 1,400 miles away, Texas remembers them and is proud of everything they are doing for our country.