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    Lovington High School graduate to attend West Point Academy

    Lovington High School graduate to attend West Point Academy

    Photo By 1st Lt. Anna Doo | New Mexico Army National Guard Pvt. Caleb Moreno of Lovington, N.M., is the first to...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. Anna Doo 

    Joint Force Headquarters, New Mexico National Guard

    LOVINGTON, N.M. – New Mexico Army National Guard Pvt. Caleb Moreno is one of more than about 18,000 high school graduates statewide. He is the only 2016 graduate of a New Mexico high school to have earned an opportunity to attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMA) and the subsequent four-year Academy through a program with the National Guard.

    According to the National Guard website, only 85 cadetships for USMA are awarded annually across the Army National Guard and Army Reserve thus making it a highly competitive and prestigious accolade. In addition to completion of Basic Combat Training, Moreno had to exceed a slew of additional education, legal, medical, and character requirements.

    A packet of paperwork was submitted by his recruiter, Sgt. 1st. Class Michael Mendoza and the Recruit Sustainment Program commander, Maj. Gabriel Vargas. Annotated in the paperwork were items speaking to Moreno’s academic performance, leadership skills, extracurricular activities and community involvement. Vargas said the process for acceptance into the USMA program included the BCT completion, the paperwork, and communication with West Point admissions personnel. He said West Point representatives interviewed Moreno’s teachers, community leaders and required a commander’s letter of recommendation as well as three essays written by the candidate himself.

    “This process is basically an 18 month journey,” Vargas said. “There are many barriers along the way. The key is to identify a Soldier who can qualify for West Point. We had three candidates at first; only two turned in packets and one packet was returned quickly because the Soldier was not fully qualified.”

    Vargas went on to say that even though the process is cumbersome, it has a higher success rate than trying to receive a congressional nomination. This is based on the percentage of National Guard or Reserve Soldiers getting into USMA holding steady at 33% compared to a civilian student receiving a congressional nomination at a success rate of 9%.

    “This is a good eye-opener,” said Mendoza, now the non-commissioned-officer-in-charge of NMNG recruiters for the Southeast region. “We know what to expect now, what to look for and how to prep our younger students if they have an aspiration to go to West Point. He’s got to be a stand out person all around. Not only academically, but involved with different programs within the school, athletics, student government, and also helping around the community.”

    As the first New Mexico National Guardsman to be accepted into USMA, Moreno is paving the way for more to follow in his footsteps.
    “It proves our goal in the Recruiting Battalion and the state which is New Mexicans helping New Mexicans,” said Lt. Col. Dominic Dennis, commander of the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “As the first New Mexico National Guardsman to get into West Point through this program, it’s something to be celebrated, it’s something to be built upon and it provides a path to help more New Mexicans get into West Point in the future. New Mexicans, Caleb Moreno, are amongst the best in the nation from our own state getting into the best school in the nation.”

    Moreno credits his success in part to his family and all of their love and support as well as to his chain of command in the Recruit Sustainment Program. He said his fellow classmates are proud of him as well.

    “I just hope I can set the path for everybody else, set the standard and do my best,” Moreno said. “I would’ve never thought this would have happened to me, it was way above my head. I joined the National Guard first, and ever since then doors have just been opening for me. It’s a really big deal, not many go to West Point from down here.”

    As Moreno completes his final few days of high school he is concurrently arranging for his mid-July start date at the USMA Preparatory School. “I’m trying to prepare physically so I can do well on my [physical fitness] test, and of course I’m trying to do well in school in order to prepare academically,” he said.

    While Moreno plans for this next phase of life, his parents Baltazar and Esperanza Moreno are also preparing for their young son to leave for college and military service. Upon completion of West Point, Moreno will have earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army as well as a Bachelor of Science degree. He will be required to serve for six years in the Army followed by two years in the inactive ready reserve.

    “This has been amazing,” Baltazar said referencing the process, the ceremony and the journey his son has embarked upon. “He’s always had it in his heart to serve his country and he’s doing it now. Since he was very young he’s wanted to do it,” added Esperanza.

    In a city of about 11,500 residents, Pvt. Caleb Moreno has set himself apart as a Soldier, strong academic, athlete, and civic-minded young man. He will now carry these attributes with him as he ventures to West Point, N.Y., and begins his career with about 1,200 fellow cadets.



    Date Taken: 05.04.2016
    Date Posted: 05.05.2016 18:36
    Story ID: 197454
    Location: LOVINGTON, NM, US 

    Web Views: 1,456
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    Lovington High School graduate to attend West Point Academy