Josh Wohlers enjoys a break from West Point Army lifeJosh Wohlers is taking time to enjoy his home state surroundings before continuing with a career as a U.S. Army officer. The brand new West Point graduate and second lieutenant has about two months to let things slide before reporting to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He reflected on his experiences at West Point over coffee in Hudson recently.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Josh Wohlers is taking time to enjoy his home state surroundings before continuing with a career as a U.S. Army officer.
The brand new West Point graduate and second lieutenant has about two months to let things slide before reporting to Ft. Sill, Okla., and artillery officer’s basic course July 20. In meantime his days will be devoted to family and friends he hasn’t seen a lot of in the past four years.
He reflected on his experiences at West Point over coffee in Hudson recently.
“It’s a commitment,” he said. He owes the Army five years active service and three years in the reserves for his college education. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to go to West Point and get an education.”
The 24-year-old 2006 Hudson High School graduate said that Army wasn’t necessarily his first choice. “I first wanted to go to the Air Force Academy,” Wohlers said. “Then I took a trip to West Point and that was it.” He received an appointment from Sen. Russ Feingold.
His desire to attend a service academy goes way back. “I remember meeting him at the (Hudson) middle school when he was in eighth grade,” said school district counselor John Dornfeld. “He told me that day he was going to an academy when he graduated from high school.”
He was serious about getting through the rigors of a service academy routine. “I went to West Point prep school in New Jersey for a year before entering West Point,” he said.
“About 90 percent of the courses at West Point are required,” Wohlers said, “and everything is determined by class standing, which is a compilation of military scores, physical scores and academic scores.”
Wohlers first wanted go into Army aviation and possibly fly helicopters but missed a chance due to his class standing. He is just as satisfied with artillery officer’s billet and will be serving with the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, the famous “Big Red One”. He has his sights set on becoming a fire support officer.
A college day at West Point only resembles its civilian counterpart during classes, he said. Before and after time in the classroom is a different story. His “Plebe Year” (freshman year) was a long one getting used to the routine, but Wohlers said he learned to live with it. “It’s structured. You know what you’re going to get every day,” he said.
“I was in combative boxing and busted up my nose and then had to go to class afterward bleeding,” Wohlers said citing one example that is different from the civilian college experience.
And there was an incident during his sophomore year, he said, that got the attention of higher ups that could have sent him on his way. Legend has it that Wohlers was involved in a streaking incident across the quad at about the same time a group of Air Force cadets, on campus for a football game, made its entrance.
It was probably not a good day for the Army or Wohlers, but he survived and ultimately graduated.
Wohlers knows when he finishes training, he could lead a platoon of 45 men in combat situations maybe as early as February 2012. He’s banking on his years of training. “When the time comes I will know what needs to be done. Training is a big part of it,” he said.
In the meantime a certain amount of effort will be devoted to seeking out the mighty muskie on various lakes while he is home. “I love to fish,” he said.
As for making it through West Point, graduating and getting a commission, “It’s all about heart,” Wohlers said.
Reporter’s note: Since the class of 1999, records at Hudson High School show 16 graduates have received appointments to service academies representing all branches of the armed forces.