What's it like to shower with Trump? A former classmate recalls Donald Trump's military school days

Trump's "bullying style strikes a familiar chord" with the school's culture, a classmate writes in The Daily Beast

Published March 28, 2016 5:01PM (EDT)

Donald Trump   (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

First things first: Yes, Sandy McIntosh did shower with Donald Trump when they were military school classmates, but, no, he can't confirm the truthfulness of Trump's boasts about the size of his penis.

"I have only positive memories of Donald from my school years," McIntosh writes in The Daily Beast of his formative days at New York Military Academy, the boarding school that he and Trump attended in the 1960s. But although McIntosh's recollections of young Donald Trump are sympathetic, he sees echoes of the military school's hardscrabble ethos in the Trump we now see on the presidential campaign trail. "[Trump's] bullying style strikes a familiar chord with me and his support for torture reminds me of the (lesser) physical and mental abuse that characterized the culture of the academy," he writes.

McIntosh writes that his father sent him to NYMA on the recommendation of a business associate named Fred Trump, who had sent his unruly son Donald "up the river" to the academy in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York.

"I wasn't the most well behaved person in the world and my parents had no idea what to do with me, and they heard about this school that was a tough place and they sent me up to New York Military Academy and it was really a great experience for me," Trump told CNN in 2004.

"I loved it. It was terrific training. It was tough, but it was good," Trump said years later in a video advertisement for the school. Though he subsequently avoided service in the Vietnam War via draft deferments, Trump recalled that his time at NYMA provided him with "more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military."

But as McIntosh recounts in another piece for the Long Island Press, hazing rituals were an inescapable part of life at NYMA.

One of the most feared tasks required those about to be hazed to appear in the basement shower room, where the 10 or 15 shower heads would be blasting hot water, which created a steamy fog that burned the throat. The unfortunate cadets would have to appear in their heavy-padded winter dress uniforms. They would stand at rigid attention with their arms raised parallel before them, balancing their eight-and-one-half pound M1 rifles across their arms. After 10 minutes, the M1 seemed to weigh 50 pounds. Anyone dropping his rifle was taken into the next room to be physically reprimanded.

McIntosh remembers being singled out by a particularly harsh staff member named Major Theodore Dobias, a man often described as Trump's mentor at NYMA. McIntosh says Dobias "tried to turn us into men by making us fight each other," humiliating cadets with harsh boxing instruction. But then, McIntosh recalls in The Daily Beast, young Donald Trump intervened:

I endured several weeks of lopsided boxing matches until I felt mentally and emotionally numb. At that point, walking from my building to the Main Barracks, I ran into Donald. He smiled and asked how things were going. I told him about Dobias’ persecution. Donald asked offhandedly: “And you want this to stop?” I told him, yes. I wanted it to stop.

“I’ll have a word with him,” said Donald.

I don’t know what Donald said, or if he said anything, but Dobie shelved the boxing matches.

Washington Post piece published in January presented conflicting accounts of Trump's senior year at NYMA. Former classmates claim that Trump was removed from a prestigious company captain position after a freshman was hazed by an officer under Trump's command. According to these classmates, Trump's laissez-faire leadership style alarmed school administrators and resulted in Trump being transferred to a staff position that carried similar stature but no command responsibilities. Trump disputed this account and claimed that he was transferred due to his exemplary service. “I was promoted. The word is ‘promoted’ — Mark it down,” Trump told the newspaper. The Post depicts the incident as an early example of what would become a recurrent theme: "Often the center of controversy, [Trump] finds a way to emerge by declaring victory and claiming success, even if the facts are more complicated and some people around him are left with sour feelings."

By Michael Garofalo

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Donald Trump Election 2016 Hazing New York Military Academy