Academy Day Carries on Nunnellee Tradition

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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — Congressman Trent Kelly believes it’s important for the young people of the 1st Congressional District to know about all the opportunities to serve their country as military officers.

Academy Day was started by the late Congressman Alan Nunnellee. And his successor Congressman Trent Kelly, who attained the rank of Colonel in the Army is carrying on the tradition.

“And it was so important Alan that we have academy day and so this right. And when something works and it’s done right you don’t try to fix it. You just try to continue that tradition. And I’m a great military guy but I love what Alan did in forming this Academy Day here in Tupelo,” Kelly says.

Those in attendance heard from speakers from the various service academies, including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Air Force Academy Cadet Nathaniel Kendrick is a graduate of Caledonia High School, and his father was at one time stationed at Columbus Air Force base. He says there are tough standards to get in.

“Definitely keeping grades up,” he notes. “If they fall you’re going to be in trouble. You need to have a high GPA, doing very well on the SAT/ACT, being involved in the community service leading athletic teams and keeping up with everything,” Kendrick points out.

Midshipman David Duchane is from Oxford and attends the US Naval Academy.

“There’s a lot of hoops to jump through. And the selection rate is very low in fact it’s like Harvard and Yale and other Ivy League Universities,” he says.

Brier McCurdy is a sophomore at Tupelo High School. He plays football for the Golden Wave and wants to make the military his career.

“Really I’m looking at all the academies. I’m just trying to put my name out because I really want to support our country and help our country. And I really love the military,” McCurdy says.

While it is the dream of many young people today to attend a major service academy like West Point Annapolis or the Air Force Academy 70-percent of all those young people who become commissioned officers today go through the ROTC program. Congressman Kelly is an example.
Cadet Olivia Vinzant and her brother John are both are part of the ROTC program at Ole Miss.

“The program offers leadership development and just personal development on a professional level while I can still enjoy the activities of being a student and for planning my future career as a RA officer,” she explains.

Vinzant says she would like to be an Army aviator flying an attack helicopter like this one. Her younger brother John is also thinking about being a chopper pilot. He is really sold on the ROTC program.

“It helps you balance fitness and education and just a lot of things, ” he notes. “Plus is gives you kind of a fraternity experience. It’s a great to branch out and meet people. There’s just so many opportunities there. It’s just a really great program.”

Congressman Kelly also attended Ole Miss.

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