WEST POINT, N.Y. — A Surry Central graduate and Junior Reserved Officers Training Corps member has been named to the United States Military Academy in West Point’s Black Knights Parachute Team. This team is affiliated with the United States Army’s Golden Eagles Parachute Team.
Granath Musson of Siloam said he began his journey to military life accidentally when he took a JROTC class as part of a senior requirement and so enjoyed the class he stayed a cadet for four years, earning the position of flight commander several times en route to his decision to try for the academy.
“I just liked the class so much,” recalled Musson. “I credit a lot of getting my nomination into the academy to the caliber of Surry Central’s JROTC program with Lt. Col. Brian O’Connell and Master Sgt. Greg McCormick. It’s a distinguished unit with merit. There are only 25 applications nationwide a year to the academy. Our unit sent in one (his) and it was accepted.”
He knew being involved with skydiving was for him when he saw the Golden Knights at a summer leadership conference.
“When I saw that, I felt that I knew what team I wanted to be a part of,” said Musson. That process entailed completing a large packet of forms as well as letters of recommendation and submitting his second semester grades and then meeting the physical requirements. Then candidates for the parachute team must pass an informal interview with the team members before the team decides if they are accepted.
Musson said the initial academy application process can be lengthy. In his case, he received a Letter Of Assurance (LOA) of his admission early in June of his senior, much to his relief. He was officially appointed to the academy in October 2011. He said his first year at the school began with a basic, six-week training program with the designation of new cadet.
Following the academy’s acceptance day for new cadets and parents, Musson was accepted into the corps of cadets and began his first year as a “Plebe.” Having completed this year, he is now referred to as a “Yearling” or “Yuk.” West Point cadets are referred to as a “Cow” in the junior year and a “Firstie” in the senior year.
Musson was among a group of 12 academy skydivers who competed in the College Nationals at Christmas. He was one of four yuks on the team. He said the group competed in just the accuracy competition of the skydiving event.
“Our team has changed and redirected its efforts to sheer accuracy in jumping instead of other categories we could compete in. Usually our team is used during football season to jump into the stadium.”
While readily admitting life was less than pleasant as a plebe, Musson has maintained a remarkable perspective on where he is at this point in his life.
“Everybody can talk about the difficulties, but in reality, we (at the academy) are some of the most privileged kids in the United States,” said Musson. “We are getting a world class education, because the academy is one of the top seven in the country and we aren’t having to pay tuition. When we graduate, we are officers in the U.S. Army so we automatically have a career. We get opportunities others will never experience.”
In spite of the strict atmosphere at the academy, Musson is positive.
“West Point is great. That first year is not fun at all. When you’re a plebe you can only talk in class and in the academic buildings. You have to walk with your hands cupped and must walk along the walls and you have to greet the upperclassmen,” said Musson. “As a yuk, it’s a much greater place to be even though the academics get harder.”
Over this past Christmas break, Musson was able to skydive at the Carolina Skydiving Ranch in Jonesville.
“They have an awesome place to jump,” said Musson. “The weather was good except for Sunday, and I made three jumps which gives me 88 jumps which is not that many, but I’m on my way. It was a lot of fun.” He said his sister, Skye, tandem skydived in addition to him — under the watchful eye of their mother, Georgeanne.
“She (Skye) is starting to get her confidence with local jumpers,” said Musson. “It was my mom’s first time seeing me jump. She did really well and had a good time with it. It was awesome. The weather in North Carolina was good.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.