Science Hill grad's West Point dream comes true

Tony Casey • May 1, 2014 at 8:47 PM

After finally completing and submitting his application to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in February no one in David Adams’ house could touch the mail but him.

His sister, Trista Lane, and mom, Tricia Caughran, were more than happy to oblige Adams’ request because they both thought it was a long shot for him to get an acceptance letter. As the weeks went by and no answer came, even as others on social media sites were gloating at their individual acceptances, he thought the likely scenario was that he simply hadn’t got in.

“Between me and my mom, the joke was that the mailman was going to get a restraining order out on me,” Adams said, wondering in that painful duration where was his response.

He had a recommendation from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and others, good grades, proper extracurricular activities from his time on the cross county squad at Science Hill to time spent at Boys’ State and the job he’s had since his freshman year in advertising and marketing. Every year, about 15,000 people apply to attend West Point, with only about 1,200 being accepted. Knowing that, Adams said he though his background is impressive, he might be guilty of suffering from “big fish in a small pond” syndrome. Unsure whether he’d be accepted, the anticipation grew.

Then he found out, just like that, on March 30, with his mother in Virginia Beach, Va. Bill Snodgrass, district director for Roe, called Adams and delivered the news.

“Congratulations on your appointment,” Snodgrass told Adams, but he was in disbelief at first. “It took me hearing the full sentence to register.”

He had the self control to do as not many kids in his position would have, he wanted to keep it off the social media pages of himself and his mom. His goal was to write personal letters to everyone who’d helped to earn admission and be able to break the news to them himself.

As good as the news was, Caughran and the family were going through an extremely tough situation with Caughran’s mother on her deathbed. Adams was extremely happy at being able to deliver the good news to his grandmother just before she died. His mother said it took a lot of maturity by her son to put his life-changing news on the back burner to pay his respects and allow his family the chance to grieve.

The news was so big, so anticipated and so close to his grandmother’s death that when Caughran heard the news, she had a quick thought that her son was just making up the news to please his grandmother just before she died. But he wasn’t.

Admission into West Point is often the beginning of a person’s career in the military, and Caughran says her son already has plans of going that route.

“He has already expressed adamantly that he plans to make this a career,” she said.

Having taken classes at East Tennessee State University, Adams says he’s seen what traditional college is like, with students often skipping classes and coming in after a long night of drinking. He’s also seen what it’s like at West Point. In the fall, Adams said he shadowed a freshman, or pleeb, there, and was a bit taken back at just how things are done.

“This is serious,” was Adams reaction to the level of structure he saw there, but thinks his personality will allow him to thrive there.

“I love it. I’m in awe. I’m scared and excited all at the same time,” Adams said about what’s in front of him.

On July 2, he goes to New York with little more than the clothes on his back and maybe a few extra pairs of socks. The Army will supply him with everything he needs and he’s ready to live that way with his aspirations of pursuing electrical engineering through the military. Computer work comes naturally to him, his mother and sister confirm.

“More people call the house to have their computers fixed than to congratulate David,” Caughran jokes.

A member of Science Hill’s Army Junior ROTC, Adams caught the eye of Col. Mike Johnson, who is proud of what one of his top seniors has accomplished.

“What an honor,” Johnson said. “The four years he’s been with us have been great.”

As awards were handed out to JROTC students Wednesday night at the Science Hill auditorium, Adams came up big as the co-victor of the senior class superior cadet. The other winner, Adams’ girlfriend Jessica Lang, who was also decorated with awards beside her fellow cadets, who were trained through the school’s program to be young, independent adults.

Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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