The Long Gray Line (1955) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The life story of a salt-of-the-earth Irish immigrant, who becomes an Army Noncommissioned Officer and spends his 50 year career at the United States Military Academy at West Point. This includes his job-related experiences as well as his family life and the relationships he develops with young cadets whom he befriends. Based on the life of a real person.

  • In 1898, Irish immigrant Martin Maher is hired as a civilian employee at West Point where, during a 50-year career, he rises to the rank of NCO and instructor.



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  • The Long Gray Line is based on the life of Martin "Marty" Maher, Jr. (25 June 1876 17 January 1961). Maher was an Irish immigrant from Ballycrine, County Tipperary, Ireland, who joined the United States Army in 1898 and rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. He served as a revered and beloved swimming instructor at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, from 1899 to 1928.

    Maher retired from the Army in 1928 and stayed at West Point as a civil service (civilian) employee in the athletic department and retired from that in 1946, completing 50 years of service at "The Point" (including two years as a waiter prior to his enlistment). Maher was named an honorary member of the classes of 1912, 1926 and 1928.

    His autobiography, Bringing Up The Brass: My 55 Years at West Point, cowritten by Nardi Reeder Campion, was published in 1951 by David McKay Company Inc. and was the source of the film.

    Maher died on 17 January 1961, at the age of 84 and is buried in the West Point Cemetery.

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