Tag Archives: West Point

Bayside students thank soldiers from home


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Three soldiers from Queens and Long Island got a hero’s welcome Monday when they paid a visit to a Bayside school.

Students from P.S. 130 welcomed the trio of military men on November 25 with armfuls of letters and a homemade flag with each child’s handprint, thanking them for their service.

Working with a nonprofit, volunteer corporation called Operation Gratitude, the youngsters wrote 150 letters and collected 126 pounds of candy and 150 toothbrushes to be sent to deployed military men and women.

This is the third year the school has helped the initiative.

“It means a great deal to me and other soldiers, serving overseas,” said Master Sgt. Robert Frame, one of three guests. “There are very tough times in combat, and it’s easy to kind of get lost in the challenges and rigors of war. When you receive letters from all these kids, from schools back home, it really lets you know what it is you’re fighting for.”

Frame, 33 of Albertson, Long Island has been in the Army for 15 years, having served two tours in Iraq. He is in charge of cadet operations at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point.

Frame fielded question after question from the curious bunch. Then two Queens Navy recruiters — Rocky Ramdyal and Wubin Emerson Liao — showed their captivated audience a life vest that inflates upon impact.

Ramdyal, an aviation electronics technician, is entering his 16th year with the Navy. The Woodhaven native, last stationed in Hawaii, became a recruiter in downtown Flushing last year.

Liao of Elmhurst, also a recruiter, is a logistics specialist, serving nearly six years with the Navy. He did a four-year tour of duty in Japan before returning home.

“Getting letters from students means a lot more than getting letters from your parents, who know what you’re doing,” Ramdyal said. “When you’re in a war zone area, when you see that letter saying, ‘thank you,’ it means a lot because it’s like our job isn’t going unnoticed.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Furloughs cancel forum for future cadets


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Neil Ruiz

Queens high school students looking to serve their country will have to make do without a planned information forum that could have been critical to their military future.

Recruiters from five of the nation’s top military academies were set to meet the borough’s prospective cadets until the government shutdown trickled down and caused its cancellation.

The Forest Hills forum organized by Congressmember Grace Meng was expected to draw at least 100 people, according to Meng’s office. It was called off since most academy representatives were likely furloughed from the shutdown.

A spokesperson for Meng said the event could not be rescheduled even if the shutdown ends soon due to time restraints.

“Canceling this important forum for our local students is extremely disappointing,” Meng said. “It illustrates how our Congressional district continues to feel the effects of the GOP shutdown.”

The event gave students a chance to get key information all at once, including requirements and procedures for applying, from representatives from the prestigious institutions.

Applicants are also short on time and have until November 1 to apply for their required congressional nominations — a competitive process in New York.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy all mandate a nod for appointment from a U.S. representative.

Congressmembers or senators then have until January 31 to review and interview applicants before sending their choices to the academies.

“For the sake of our constituents and the rest of the country,” Meng said, “I once again urge House Republicans to immediately reopen the government.”

The federal stalemate, at least, is not delaying squared-away cadets at Francis Lewis High School, which has one of the country’s largest junior battalions.

The six seniors interested in attending West Point have already submitted their applications and congressional nomination requests, according to Senior Army Instructor retired Lt. Col. Al Lahood.

The school’s JROTC program has sent more than 20 cadets to West Point since 2003, officials said. Five alumni graduated from the prestigious military academy last year.

Five Queens teens from other high schools have also been accepted to the Air Force Academy since last year.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Francis Lewis JROTC program sends two more students to West Point


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The country’s largest Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) program will send two more cadets to West Point.

Aaron Lin, 19, and Brian Nepogoda, 17, have been accepted to the U.S. Military Academy.

The JROTC program at their high school, Francis Lewis, has sent more than 20 cadets to West Point since 2003. Five of Francis Lewis’ JROTC alumni graduated from the prestigious military academy last year.

“I really, honestly can’t even describe my feelings. It’s an extreme honor,” Lin said. “It was my goal since I was a little kid. I’ve always wanted to be a soldier. It’s my highest personal achievement.”

Lin, a former cadet captain from Flushing, recently completed a one year preparatory program at Marion Military Institute after graduating from high school.

He said his “extreme patriotism” for his country and his Chinese-American pride pushed him to start a life of service.

“Since I’m here, I might as well fight for everyone who lives here,” he said. “I want to show that Chinese-Americans are not any less than anyone else. We’re just as strong. We can become great officers and leaders. I wanted to make my family proud.”

Nepogoda, a senior from Bellerose, said he was inspired to continue in the footsteps of his veteran grandfathers.

“They used to tell me stories about their service, stories about honor and how they were heroes. That really inspired me,” he said.

Nepogoda, a cadet first sergeant, is currently third in charge of a company of 200 students. He was also part of a Francis Lewis team that won first place in a recent Fort Dix competition that tested their mental and physical abilities.

“He gives 200 percent,” said coach and retired Master Sgt. Peter Rompf. “I’m proud. They were both good role models for the team.”

The pair leaves for six weeks of basic training in July before they begin their academic year. They will spend five years in active duty and four years in the reserves after graduating in 2017.

“I’ve wanted to go to West Point since about eighth grade,” Nepogoda said. “When I got accepted, I just couldn’t help but think how weird it is how quickly dreams can come true.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES