Riverside Military Academy President Col.James Benson, left, presents Selma native John Nettles, center, with his West Point appointment certificate. Pictured at right is West Point Admissions Officer Capt. Charles Cook. --Submitted
Riverside Military Academy President Col.James Benson, left, presents Selma native John Nettles, center, with his West Point appointment certificate. Pictured at right is West Point Admissions Officer Capt. Charles Cook. -- Submitted

Nettles begins his chase of education, military goals

Published 8:18pm Thursday, June 27, 2013

John Nettles decided during his sophomore year at Morgan Academy he wanted to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. He just didn’t know which route to take.

After some advice, consulting with family and a lot of hard work, including spending his senior year at Riverside Military Academy in Georgia, Nettles is just days away from beginning both his education and his military career at the U.S. Military Academy, better known as West Point.

Nettles learned of his appointment through a phone call from fellow Selma native, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell.

“I don’t know what I said, if I said anything,” Nettles remembers from that conversation. “The letter and information about me getting my appointment had been sent to my home in Selma. I do remember my mouth just falling open.

“I don’t think I said anything stupid though.”

Sewell said she was appreciative of Nettles desire to serve his country, as well as pursing his academic goals.

“I am so proud of John for his remarkable achievement of being accepted into the prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point. John represents the very best of the 7th Congressional District, and I know he will continue to make us proud at West Point,” Sewell said. “We celebrate all of his accomplishments and are eternally grateful for his willingness to serve our country. I wish John the best in his military pursuits and know he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

Nettles received a full four-year scholarship to attend West Point and will become one of six Riverside graduates to attend West Point this fall.

West Point admissions officer Capt. Charles Cook, through a release from Riverside, confirmed that no other high school in the nation currently has that number of graduates simultaneously attending West Point.

Nettles — along with some of his family — will fly to West Point, N.Y. this weekend in advance of reporting for his first day of training early Monday morning.

Nettles is the son of John Nettles Sr. and Alicia Sheffield Nettles of Selma.

As for the most difficult part of the transition to West Point, Nettles is not so worried about the military expectations, drill, high standards or fast pace, he experienced much of that over the past year at Riverside Military Academy. For Nettles, he thinks it will be the distance from family.

“At Riverside, I had my car there so I could run home on the weekend for some good food and time with family,” he said. “Now, at West Point, I am over 1,000 miles away. The next chance I will get to come home likely won’t be until Christmas.”

He said the conversations with his mother and father were different, but both supported his decision.

“My mom has wanted me to be a brain surgeon for quite some time, and has really put a lot of focus on me getting a good education. The military part of this, she wasn’t so pleased about,” Nettles said. “My dad, who served in the Army, understood and has been tremendously supportive.”

At Riverside, Nettles quickly rose through the ranks, reaching the rank of Cadet Second Lieutenant. While there, he served as a platoon leader and was a member of Riverside’s rifle team, the National Honor Society and Boy Scouts of America. He received the Gold Star, which is RMA’s academic honor roll. He was also awarded the Reserve Officers Association Award for his dedication to citizenship, military orientation, self-discipline and a sound work ethic.

But, beginning Monday, Nettles will leave behind those leadership benefits at Riverside and become one of more than 1,000 plebes just beginning their four-year path through West Point.

Leave a comment

You must be a registered user and signed in to comment on this article and view existing comments.

Editor's Picks