From the age of 10, Pocahontas County High School senior Tyler Owens knew he wanted to serve his country. He watched his older brother, Billy, attend West Point, and decided he wanted to follow the same path.
Just before Thanksgiving, Owens received news that he was one step closer to achieving his dream. He received not one, but two nominations to attend the elite military academy.
U.S. Senators Joe Man-chin and Shelley Moore Capito announced Owens’ nomination in November.
“It felt good,” Owens said. “It’s a big burden off my shoulders, because you need that to get even considered. If you don’t have that, you can’t apply.”
Owens contacted the senators and was granted interviews with both.
“I went to the interview and they talked about why I want to go there and things I’ve done in school,” he said. “I guess they liked me. The first one, I was really nervous, but the second one was easier. I knew what to do.”
Now that he is one step closer, Owens is excited to submit his application to West Point in hopes he is accepted.
“Since about the age of ten, I always wanted to serve my country,” he said. “It felt right. My brother went there and it kind of gave me a taste of what it was like. West Point is a four year college and once you get out – you have to serve your five-year commitment – and you can continue in the Army or you can become a civilian.”
Along with receiving nominations and having the academic aptitude to attend West Point, Owens will have to meet the physical requirements.
“You have to meet their physical requirements, like a fitness test,” he said. “You have to run two miles, do push-ups for two minutes and sit-ups for two minutes. It’s a leadership institute, so it’s preparing you to be a leader.”
Owens plans to study nuclear electrical engineering and possibly follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’ll either stay in the Army for my twenty years or maybe work nuke plants like my father did,” he said. “I’m not a hundred percent sure.”
If he continues in the Army, Owens will leave West Point as a Second Lieutenant and will be assigned to a base after graduation.
In his time at PCHS, Owens has been preparing himself for this moment. He is enrolled in higher level STEM classes. He is on the varsity football team, as well as the track team. He is a member of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and is the Vice President of the Student Leaders Club.
With all these activities and classes on his plate, Owens said he tries to stay focused on the future.
“You have to have good time management – that’s what my brother told me,” he said. “You have to know what to do, and you’ve got to get stuff done.”
Owens is the son of Bill and Pam Owens, of Marlinton.
In a press release, Manchin stated that he nominated 40 students from 20 West Virginia counties to the U.S. service academies, which include the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.
“It is such an honor to recommend 40 of West Virginia’s brightest young men and women to the U.S. service academies,” Senator Manchin said. “All of our students worked hard to earn these nominations and are determined to serve our country. Many are also striving to carry on their families’ proud military heritage. I join all West Virginians in congratulating these hardworking and committed students, because a nomination to one of our elite service academies will develop these young men and women to become our next generation of military leaders.”
Capito echoed Manchin’s pride in making nominations for students to enter military academies.
“One of my most important responsibilities is nominating young men and women for admission to our country’s service academies,” Senator Capito said. “I am thrilled to support these outstanding students for admission to our nation’s most prestigious academic institutions. All of the nominees have worked hard to reach this point in their lives, and I am confident that, if selected, these students will represent West Virginia and our nation with honor and integrity.”