The request: Take a few minutes to publicly thank those people who helped you reach your goal of attending the Academy and have been instrumental in making your way through life as a cadet.
The response: If I were to thank anyone for their influence to get me to the Academy, it would have to be my dad. I know that sounds cheesy because everyone always picks their dad! Yet, my dad is special (cheesy, too, I know). My dad grew up in South-Central Los Angeles, the biggest ghetto in the U.S. back in the 60s. He was one of the only Hispanics at an all black high school. He worked his way through college as a bag boy at the local supermarket. After working the night shift, he went to get some breakfast and picked the wrong diner. It was held up and during the robbery my dad was shot twice, millimeters away from his spine and jugular vein. He survived, by millimeters. When he married my mom, he moved his family to Arizona for a new job. Coming from dreary beginnings with nothing handed to him, my dad worked his way into a better environment for his family. Later on, he suffered a disease that took away 65 percent of his hearing overnight; no problem, he just saved the neighbors a cable TV bill since they could always hear ours. Two knee replacements and back surgery later, he was doing great (he could golf…what else could he ask for?). His son was applying to colleges, and the Academy was in the mix. With minimal prodding, his son picked the Academy. Seeing his son two or three times a year now, but talking on the phone almost every night, things were going smoothly. His son was surviving and time was flying (for him!). Two years went by in a flash, but then something had to come and put another obstacle in his way. While his son was home for summer leave, he got a report back from the doctor of blood cancer, multiple myeloma. It is just another hurdle for him to jump, and through all the past hurdles he hadn’t stumbled and we all know he won’t stumble on this one either. Currently, my pops is going through chemo and is awaiting a stem cell transplant.
What gets me through this place? My dad does. His nightly phone calls. His picture on my desk. If I ever think about complaining about how hard my life is, all I have to do is look at that picture on my desk or hear his voice on the phone. I know if he could do what he’s done with the odds stacked up against him, then I know this place ain’t nothing. If I ever complain about something at the Academy, rest-assured I’ll get the smart-aleck comment of “Try chemo!”
More about Matt.