Following a dream: Roosevelt grad heads to West Point

Photo by Sue Suchyta

Mitchell Kittle, a 2011 Roosevelt High School graduate, will report to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Monday to attend seven weeks of cadet basic training before the Aug. 15 start of classes.

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WYANDOTTE – When Mitchell Kittle steps onto a college campus on Monday, he won’t experience the typical round of late night parties.

Instead he’ll be rising at dawn for uphill runs as he begins seven-week cadet basic training, nicknamed “beast barracks.”

He will also be without a cell phone, email or social networks for seven weeks, an alien concept to some of his peers.

He’s not complaining, though. He said he’s thrilled to be a cadet in the incoming class of 2015 at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

“I’ve always wanted to serve our country,” Kittle said. “It was one of those things that just clicked perfectly. I knew I wanted to go to college, I knew I wanted to serve in the military. So it was like a marriage of both – perfect.”

The son of Mary Kittle of Wyandotte and Charles Kittle Jr. of Lincoln Park, he grew up listening to both grandfathers talk about their Army service during the Korean War. He said he will be the first in his family to attend West Point.

Kittle received his nomination from Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, the former U.S. representative for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.

Kittle said the four-year scholarship, worth about $300,000, will allow him to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering while receiving military training. Academic classes begin Aug. 15, during the new cadets’ eighth week.

He said when he graduates in four years it will be as a second lieutenant.

“I’m one of the guys that’s going to West Point not to be a ‘five and fly;’ I plan on giving my 20 years,” Kittle said. “And all I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my country. And if I had to pay to go to West Point, I would…that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

He added that in six years he plans on being an infantry or cavalry officer leading troops on the front lines.

“There’s never been a doubt in my mind; that’s where I’ve wanted to be, out there right in front, taking care of the guys, being there with them.”

Kittle said that with a Systems Engineering degree and the military training that he anticipates learning in the Army during his anticipated 20-year career he hopes to apply his skills and knowledge to work in the civilian sector with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A Wyandotte native, Kittle attended St. Stanislaus Koska Catholic School for one year before switching to Washington Elementary School. He also attended Wilson Middle School and Roosevelt High School.

He describes himself as “the guy that does everything.”

At Washington and Wilson he started a paper recycling program. At Roosevelt he was class president for four years, and a National Honor Society officer, science club member and on the varsity football and rowing teams.

He was also a member of Boy Scout Troop 1758 for 10 years, and he he became heavily involved in the National Youth Leadership Training camp held at the D-bar-A Scout Ranch in Metamora. D-bar-A is affiliated with the Great Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Kittle said that he thinks his leadership skills will be his strongest suit going into West Point.

He said the academy has a physical program of running and swimming recommended to incoming cadets to help them get in shape for basic training.

Kittle said that he has been told that entering cadets are tested to see where they should be placed for running and swimming groups in the first couple of days; he said it is not a “pass or fail” test.

“West Point scares people because of the name and the way it used to be, the old corp,” Kittle said. “The way it is now they’re spending so much money on us they want us to stay there, they don’t want us to leave. So they’re going to do everything they can to keep you there and help you.”

Kittle said that his Catholic faith gives him an extra boost in his belief in himself.

“Every day I wake up, things happen for a reason,” Kittle said. “If this was meant to happen, it was meant to happen for a reason here and there, and I feel that everybody should have an equal opportunity, and it does play a big part in what I do.”