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Talbott hopes to continue family military tradition

January 13, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Two of Louie Talbott's Christmas presents arrived via the U.S. Postal Service at his Gerrardstown, W.Va.-area home in the days before and after the holiday last month.

In two letters, one from U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the other from U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, the 17-year-old Musselman High School senior learned the same thing ? he received the lawmakers' nomination to the U.S. Naval Academy.

"It was quite a Christmas present," Talbott said in a recent interview at school, where he serves on Student Council and is president of the FFA chapter.

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Talbott hopes to be able to tell his parents they won't have to pay for school by April, when he expects to know whether he was accepted at the tradition-rich officers school in Annapolis.

As a "backup plan," Talbott applied and has been accepted to attend West Virginia University. In the top 15 percent of his graduating class, Talbott has never had less than a 4.0 grade-point average in high school, where he still has a few goals left to achieve.

One is to break the school record for the mile in track. His best time, 4:35, is about five seconds off the mark, Talbott said.

Talbott's long-held desire to be in the military falls in line with a family tradition of military service. Many family members also enjoy flying. His father is a retired member of the Air National Guard. His grandfather retired from the U.S. Marine Corps, and served in the Vietnam and Korean wars. A maternal great-great- grandfather served in the Civil War with Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Talbott said.

Talbott said he's been flying with his dad since he can remember, "holding the stick and making turns" at the age of 4 or 5.

"Dad says once I get my license, I'll be a fourth-generation pilot," Talbott said.

A member of the Pikeside Flying Club, Talbott said he took his first solo flight on Dec. 6. He said it was "weird being out there" by himself.

Still, he enjoys flying more than anything else.

"There's nothing else to worry about except getting back on the ground," Talbott said of being airborne.

It forced confidence upon him, which helped when he went to Capito's office in Martinsburg for an interview concerning his application for her nomination. The application was 14 pages long.

The prospects of the panel interview kept him up the night before, he said.

"I made sure I was looking them straight in the eye when I was answering their questions," Talbott said.

For Rockefeller's consideration, he only met with one member of the senator's staff and the application was substantially shorter, Talbott said.

Though the lawmakers' nominations don't guarantee Talbott will be accepted, he was gratified to at least be nominated.

"If you really want (something) bad enough, you can make it happen," Talbott said when asked for any parting advice to give other young people. "Nothing's impossible."

Musselman High School Assistant Principal Holly Kleppner said Talbott is the epitome of what educators want in students, noting his polite and respectful manner.

"He's a great kid. He's mature. He's got a goal, a vision and he's worked hard all through high school and he deserves the opportunity," Kleppner said.

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