Rain can’t dampen spirit of West Point grad

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By Robert Villanueva



By ROBERT VILLANUEVA rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF — For Krystal Sherwood, 22, graduation day at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. felt a little like déjà vu. That’s because at the May 31 ceremony, the weather threatened to be a repeat of her 2003 North Hardin High School graduation, during which a downpour drenched the graduates. Sherwood feared the West Point ceremony would have to be held inside. Fortunately, the rain held off until just about the time the ceremony came to a close. As the final few cadets crossed the stage, the rain began, and by the time the cadets threw their hats into the air, the rain had become a downpour. “It would figure that was the only way I could graduate,” Sherwood commented. The graduation marked the end of her training at the academy but also the start of her military career. “I guess it’s a little weird,” she said about not having to return to West Point. Sherwood’s parents and four of her five siblings attended the graduation ceremony. The only sibling who didn’t make it was a brother, who is deployed in Iraq. Following graduation, Sherwood was on 60 days of leave. She reports to Fort Sill, Okla., on July 28. Already she’s getting a little antsy. “Right now I’m getting to that ‘I’m tired of laying around’ stage,” she said. Sherwood, who was commissioned as a second lieutenant at the May 31 ceremony, will undergo a standard four-week basic officer leader course at Fort Sill. Then, in September, she will leave for Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for a basic course for engineer officers until mid-January. The North Hardin High School graduate majored in civil engineering. Her first duty station will be at Horizontal Company — a construction company — in Fort Stewart, Ga., after leaving Fort Leonard Wood. “I’m getting excited,” Sherwood said. Part of her excitement comes from her potential role in the future as a leader. During her second semester at West Point, Sherwood got a chance to be a platoon leader, an experience she enjoyed. “I want to be able to do that,” she said. Though roughly only 15-17 percent of cadets at West Point are female, gender issues did not seem to be a problem for Sherwood there. “I never felt I was distinguished or set aside because I was a female,” she said. In fact, though people have congratulated her, Sherwood doesn’t consider her accomplishment anything special. She didn’t attend West Point to make a statement or prove a point, she said. “I was doing it because I liked it,” Sherwood said. The academy stressed military, academic and physical training. Perhaps the biggest obstacle at West Point, Sherwood said, was the physical challenge. “Maybe I didn’t shine in that like others did,” she said. But the recent grad said she received support. “Of course I found it in my family,” she said. Her company — Company E3 — also helped her. “I think one of the greatest things was the friends I made there,” Sherwood said. “I don’t think I would have made it with a different group.” Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.