The long gray line
Three siblings going to the same school is not uncommon. Three siblings from Pierce County, however, attend a prestigious academy with an extensive list of alumni.Nick, Hudson and Tommy Dunn, who are 2004, 2006 and 2009 graduates of Wolford High School, respectively, attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, more commonly known as West Point. They started there in late June 2004, July 2007 and July 2009, respectively.
In 2009 the Princeton Review included West Point in the 100 Best Value Colleges. U.S. News and World Report and Forbes have also praised West Point as the Best Public Liberal Arts College and the Best Public College or University in America for undergraduate education, respectively (usma.edu/about.asp).
Because it is a military school, it stresses importance on things other than academics. The academic curriculum at West Point is similar to the average college or university, however class attendance is mandatory and a degree from West Point is equal to a Master’s degree from other colleges and universities. According to the academics FAQs under the Admissions section of West Point’s website, each class has between 12 and 18 cadets. They take courses in academics, physical fitness and military science, as well as classes from an enhanced core curriculum.
“The core curriculum is more robust because they want to create well-rounded officers,” Nick said.
Also like the average college or university, there are extracurricular activities cadets can be involved in, such as athletic and intramural sports teams, and clubs.
Getting into West Point is different from getting into the average college or university. Each year there are approximately 40,000 applications and only 1000 are actually accepted. Prospective cadets must be US citizens between the ages of 17-23 on July of their first year, they can’t be married or have children. Academically, they must have four years of english and mathematics, two years of lab sciences and foreign languages, one year of US history, and great SAT and ACT scores. They must also be physically and mentally fit. They must also have a background in athletics and extracurricular activities, and demonstrate good leadership qualities (West Point Admission FAQs). They must also apply for admission, and if they qualify they must apply to get an interview with a congressman, senator or representative. Each state has a certain number of slots allocated to senators and representatives every year. Once prospective candidates apply, they engage in interviews, and whether or not they qualify to fill those slots is determined by their applications and the outcome of the interview. If they do not receive a nomination then they must compete with other prospective cadets from around the country to fill those slots.
Hudson said of life at West Point that it follows a routine.
“Life at West Point is very regimented. Just about every hour of the day is scheduled for something,” he said.
The typical day consists of waking up at 6:30 a.m. and getting into morning accountability formations, followed by mandatorily going to classes and meals in the morning and afternoons. Parade drills, intramural sports, and various other activities take place from late afternoon and into the evening. Evenings are free to be used to prepare for next day’s classes, however on weeknights there is an 11:30 p.m. curfew.
While at West Point, all three brothers were involved in different activities. Nick played intramural sports such as Football and Ultimate Frisbee. Hudson was on the debate team. In his first semester, Tommy was involved in Track and Field, but has since then been involved with small clubs and intramural sports.
After graduating, all three become part of what is known as “the long gray line,” which has U.S. senators, congressmen and military leaders such as Generals Patton, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Schwarzkopf (westpoint.edu) within its ranks. They must also serve on active duty in the military for a minimum of five years (USMA facts/About the Academy). After graduating, Nick branched into aviation and attended flight school in Ft. Rucker, Ala. He is currently a platoon leader in an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter battalion, and will be deploying to Afghanistan in January. Hudson will go to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. for the Engineer Officer Basic Course, and will later be stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas. Tommy will serve five years in the Army, but has until the fall of his senior year to decide which branch.
“I’m not sure what the future will hold for me, but I can definitely say that West Point has helped me to better handle anything that comes my way. My experiences there and the people I’ve met will have a permanent impact on my life,” Tommy said.
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