Continuing the military tradition

Commitment is a tradition for 18-year-old Alex Vinson and her family.

Alex VInson (above) is following in her family’s footsteps in joining the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Charlotte Catholic graduate left for the academy on June 29.

Alex Vinson (above) is following in her family’s footsteps in joining the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Charlotte Catholic graduate left for the academy on June 29.

The recent Charlotte Catholic High School graduate has seen the tradition in three generations of her military family. Now she’s made that military tradition her own.

Like her great-grandfather, grandfather, uncles and dad before her, Alex will be the fourth generation to attend a military academy and the third generation to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“Commitment – it’s just kind of who I am as a person, even about everyday things,” Alex said. “Everything has an order and everything has a place. I need and want the structure at West Point.”

Alex left for basic training at West Point on Saturday, June 29. An avid runner and recent captain of the Charlotte Catholic High School cross country team, she hopes to join the marathon team at West Point. Alex graduated from Charlotte Catholic in the top 5 percent of her class with a 4.24 GPA, was a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish National Honor Society and was the founder or in a leadership role of about four different clubs including Crisis Assistance Club; The Hunger Pains, which she started to raise awareness of hunger; president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; and treasurer for the Environmental Club.

Now she’s following the footsteps of her family, including her aunt who recently retired from the Army as a helicopter pilot, and also hopes to make the Army her career either as a pilot or in military intelligence. She hopes to learn Arabic through her studies at the school.

“I know it’s in the family history, but I think it’s a lot more than tradition,” Alex said. “It’s just kind of more of the temperament on my dad’s side of the family – we are actually very suited for that kind of lifestyle.”

Now in basic training, Alex previously said going to West Point hasn’t always been her dream. Something changed her junior year of high school, which came as a surprise to her dad, Doug, a West Point alumnus who loves the school but has never pushed Alex or her three siblings to choose the military route.

“West Point really was a big surprise. I have never pushed my kids to go to West Point because it’s very hard. You have to be so committed, and I just didn’t want to put any pressure on Alex,” Doug Vinson said. “But she is an amazing girl. She is very much the strong-silent type. She’s very focused on what her objectives are.”

The goal of every rising freshman is “to get through,” Alex said, but for her, she also hopes to be one of the top students academically. The physical aspects could be more of a challenge though, she said.

Doug Vinson said he has no doubt his daughter will make it through the program. After all, she already made it through the entire application process on her own, researching what she needed to do to be accepted. According to Doug Vinson, only about 15 percent of the student body at West Point are women. While the percentage is low, it makes the changing lifestyle even more difficult as a lot of her time will be spent around men.

“She dives in with both feet when she finds something that appeals to her,” Doug Vinson said, adding he and his wife are proud of Alex for a number of reasons –  including achieving anything she sets her mind to. “West Point is an institution that is focused on serving others. You dedicate your life, or at least a good portion of it, to serving your country. You just can’t help as a parent to be very proud of that.”

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