West Point is where James Hickey wanted to spend the next four years of his life and Monday the George Mason High School senior got the package he has awaited for the last nine months.
Hickey, 18, became the second Mason student since 2011 to earn an appointment to the United States Military Academy West Point since his friend Paul Weber did it. The senior left school during his third period study hall Monday to head home and wait for the mailman.
When that flat-rate envelope arrived, Hickey said he knew what it was.
“They put a picture up on their Facebook page with all of the envelopes that they were going to send so I knew what to look for,” Hickey said. “I was shocked and excited.”
Frank DeMaro, spokesman for West Point, said they expect 1,150 new cadets in this incoming class. He said each cadet is awarded a scholarship that’s valued at $202,000 and they will also receive a monthly $1,000 stipend to pay for the laundering of uniforms, books and computers.
Hickey said he reports to the military academy in July.
To make sure he met the physical standards for West Point, Hickey, a former starting offensive lineman on Mason’s varsity football team, shed 62 pounds over nine months to get to his now-sleek 178 pounds.
Sacrificing weight and mass for a future in the United States Army was a no-brainer for Hickey. He said he was still able to hold his own on the gridiron by using mental strength instead of physical.
“My game changed a bit,” he said. “I got stronger but I got thinner.”
Principal Ty Byrd noticed.
“James’ body has gone through a complete metamorphoses,” Byrd said. “I’m very proud of him.”
In his rounds of phone calls to family and friends, Hickey called his two brothers – Edward, a first lieutenant and Thomas, a private first class (PFC), both U.S. Marines. Both brothers were busy at work but took time to welcome him to the military family. Hickey said he would have gone into the Marines but he can’t get in from West Point.
The U.S. Naval Academy, whose midshipmen can become Marines, wasn’t on Hickey’s radar. If he didn’t become a Marine, he’d be stuck on a boat, he said, and that’s not where he wants to be.
He’s not sure is he’ll be in infantry when he leaves West Point, but he said he has plenty of time to figure it out.
“I’m ready to roll,” he said. “It’s going to be a long 47 months to become a second lieutenant.”