By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
The Heart of Texas West Point Society met for a picnic at the Belton Lake Overlook Pavilion Sunday to welcome new West Point candidates into its extended family.
There are 15 inductees from the Central Texas area into the United States Military Academy at West Point for the class of 2013, and two headed to the United States Military Academy Preparatory School for 10 months before they can matriculate to the main campus located in West Point, N.Y.
West Point candidates have to go through basic training over the summer, then four years of schooling, then five years of active duty and three years reserve in the Army.
The application process is the most rigorous of any university in the country. It requires a congressional recommendation, several lengthy interviews and a proven dedication to academic excellence, physical fitness and leadership. There are about 1,000 new cadets each year.
Thomas Jay Sanderlin, 18, is a candidate who just graduated from Shoemaker High School. His father is in the Army, so he said the military is where he feels most comfortable.
"It feels like home, so I don't have a problem if it leads to a career," Sanderlin said. He plans to major in political science and maybe be a politician one day. Sanderlin did not receive senatorial approval before he got a congressional approval.
"If you want to get in, don't give up on it," he said.
West Point is in Connor Green's blood – his father is a 1984 graduate of the academy and his sister is there, starting her senior year in the fall and majoring in Portuguese. Green started the application process when he was 16. While at Killeen High School, he was a class officer, captain of the wrestling team, a member of the National Honor Society and attended a summer leaders' seminar between his junior and senior year.
Green's father is Col. Toby Green, currently on his fourth deployment to Iraq. He will be back in time to have the unique privilege, as a former graduate, to march 12 miles with his son from Camp Buckner to campus at the end of the younger Green's basic training.
Green said he will probably major in international law.
Michael Scott Hanna graduated from Belton High School in 2007 and has been in the Army for the last two years. Hanna said he thinks his military experience helped him get accepted.
"I can give knowledge to those who don't know anything about the military, and they want to kind of keep us around," Hanna said. Hanna just completed USMA Preparatory School in St. Monmouth, N.J. He said he wants to study electrical engineering.
"I'm pretty nervous; this is a lot different from the Army. This is more about learning to lead other people, learning leadership skills to become an officer. I'm very honored," Hanna said.
The other candidates to West Point are: Felipe Jesus Anciola of Vista Ridge High School; Michael Anthony Carrion of Shoemaker High School; Matthew George Gallup of Harker Heights High School; Anthony Joshua Guerrero of Emmaus High School; Marial Gallante of the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment; Heather Nicole Hernandez of Stony Point High School; Michael Dwane Joyner of Harker Heights High School; Kendall Rashawn Smith of Harker Heights High School; Javier Jose Sustaita of Troy High School; Margaret Vaden of the 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion; Grant Uland of Harker Heights High School; and Janay Lashea Wilson of Killeen High School. The two from the Central Texas area going to USMA Prep academy are Aldo Rojas and Micah Warntjes, both of the Army.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.