Local accepted to West Point Academy
Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 16, 2015
This is the third in a series celebrating Military Appreciation Month.
This June, Senior Caleb Gage will head to an institute on the Hudson River in New York to continue his father’s legacy.
On March 13, Gage received the news that he was accepted into the United States Military Academy West Point.
According to the website, for more than 200 years West Point has provided a 47-month long leadership development program focused on academic rigor, military discipline and physical challenges. Career development begins the first day, the website states, and cadets are groomed to be leaders of character who will serve as officers in America’s Army upon graduation.
“My dad will soon retire from the United States Coast Guard,” Gage said. “His military career is what started the spark. I have always wanted to be in the Army, that’s where I’m headed and that’s where I want to be. This is a great opportunity for me.”
Although Gage is homeschooled, he has participated in the NJROTC programs at Picayune and Pearl River Central.
Senior Naval Science Instructor for PRC NJROTC Col. Todd Ryder said, from the beginning, Gage hit the ground running.
“He has a wonderful, charming and industrious personality,” Ryder said. “He jumped into as many activities as he could and became team captain of physical training and marksmanship.”
Gage, who is one of three cadets chosen in the fourth congressional district, said West Point has a lengthy application process.
First applicants must apply for a presidential nomination, Gage said, and U.S. Representative Steven Palazzo nominated him. Next, Gage filled out the West Point application, which included a questionnaire and four essays, he said.
Gage said he heard the class of 2019 will have about 1,300 cadets.
He aspires to reach the rank of colonel one day and work in logistics. He plans to study mechanical engineering and said West Point has a large number of career options.
The Gage family moves every three years because of his dad’s service in the Coast Guard, Gage said. He has lived all over the northeastern United States and said this was his first time in the South where the family made their home in Picayune.
He is the son of John and Rhonda and older brother to sisters Laurel and Edie.
“We’re very proud of him for putting forth the hard work during the application process and his acceptance,” Rhonda said. “His father is retiring May 22 after 25 years with the Coast Guard and Caleb will leave for West Point on June 28. He has always wanted to be in the military and Army seems to be a good fit. It’s his passion and I feel he will excel in what he does.”
Gage said his time spent in both JROTC programs shaped and prepared him for West Point.
“My instructors have done a good job of teaching me leadership skills, physical preparedness and the importance of community service participation,” Gage said.
Ryder said Gage’s acceptance sets a wonderful precedent for the unit’s attempt at building a pathway to service academics or ROTC college scholarships.
“NJROTC is a great opportunity for kids that are college bound and seeking military careers,” Ryder said. “Next year, we are hopeful that we’ll have others get picked up. Caleb is such a good kid. He’s a future national leader and the kind we need. I’m excited to see what unfolds for him and his family.”
Members of the military and law enforcement are the backbone of his country, Gage said.
“We would not be here without our military,” Gage said. “They are extremely important to our national defense.”
Gage would like to thank the following people for contributing to his recent success, which includes Col. Zimmerman, Bridget Jones from Steven Palazzo’s office, Col. Ryder, Chief Hazelwood, Jim Dischinger, his parents and a “shout out” to Uncle Chris and Aunt Becca.