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Halfway man joined West Point '04 class

July 24, 2000

Halfway man joined West Point '04 class



By KERRI SACCHET / Staff Writer


HALFWAY - Jason Miller is not a typical 21 year-old. After spending a year at Shepherd College and a year at the University of Maryland College Park, he is now right where he wants to be - on his way to West Point.

Miller left Thursday to join the class of 2004 at the U. S. Military Academy in New York. Out of 11,000 applicants from around the nation and world, he is one of only 1,190 cadets to be accepted this year into the elite educational institution.

A private first class in the U.S. Army, Miller said he was out of the country when he received the news in February that he would be going to West Point.

"I was actually kind of speechless; it's very competitive and I didn't know what chances I had of getting in," he said. "My mom sent me an e-mail in Kuwait that told me I was accepted ... I was obviously very honored."

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He said there will be the normal challenges that every cadet in his or her plebe year faces.

"You're the lowest of the low and you have all kinds of things to memorize," Miller said, laughing. "I could be walking down the hallway and be stopped by seniors who can ask me anything they want to and I would have to know the answer."

Miller, who already completed basic training when he joined the Army in the spring of 1999, said he would start Thursday with six weeks of cadet basic training at the academy.

"I'm fairly confident that I'll do all right," he said. "It's going to be difficult, but nothing I can't handle if I put my mind to it."

A recipient of the Army Achievement Medal, he said he has gained experience serving in Kuwait with such skills as combat engineering, which involves work with explosives that was risky at times.

"We had to go out and defuse a live mine; that was nerve-wracking and pretty intense," Miller said.

In order to apply to West Point, one has to be nominated. Miller said that was done for him by his commanding officer, Capt. William Velazquez, who gave Miller a service-connected nomination.

Miller said he applied in September of 1999 and went through the process of a physical aptitude test and writing essays for the application.

A typical day at the academy consists of morning academic classes and physical training in the afternoon, he said.

He received a full undergraduate scholarship. Though he learned combat engineering in the service, he said he has other aspirations to fulfill at West Point.

"My goal when I graduate is to go into the aviation branch of the Army," he said.

Carol Miller, his mother, said at first she was hesitant when her son joined the Army because she places importance on her children going to college.

"My main thing is education, so when this door opened up for him ... we were overwhelmed and very excited," Carol Miller said, "Both his father and I are very proud and I just want him to go up there and do the best he can do; he has a lot of potential."

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