Called to serve: Johnson County senior appointed to United States Military Academy
PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - As a standout player for Paintsville High School, Rexford Castle is wrapping his final year as a Tiger.
“We might not have all the championships we wanted to win while he was here, and we have one a couple, but he’s set a standard here for the classes to come,” said head basketball coach Landon Slone.
According to Slone, Castle set the bar for the kind of player the school wants to see on its court and the kind of student teachers hope to see in the halls.
“We try to instill what’s right in our kids,” Slone said. “To be classy and do things the right way. And he does that daily.”
Now, with the end of his senior year approaching, Castle is taking that attitude with him into his next chapter.
“I’d always grew up having a love of the military and a love of country,” said Castle. “So, I got old enough to apply and I said, ‘You know what? This is going to be something I’m going to chase.’”
Castle said his decision to serve the country was not a continuation of generations before, but a decision he made on his to step out in service. So, he feels blessed that his family supported the decision.
And that support same to a high point Wednesday when Castle received a call from Congressman Hal Rogers.
After a year-long process of applying to West Point, with a nomination and vote of confidence from Congressman Rogers, the United States Military Academy in New York appointed Castle to its incoming class.
“I got to talking to him. It was awesome. My mind was racing,” said Castle.
During the call, recorded at the school and later shared on Congressman Rogers’ Facebook page, Rogers told Castle he was appointed based on his application, saying, “You’re the man. You earned it.”
“You came through with flying colors. I’m proud of you. You’re gonna make me proud as your appointee,” Rogers said. “And you’ll make a great cadet and a great officer of our military.”
Castle said the conversation is still sinking in days later as he prepares for the next steps. However, the time spent on the court has been a small training practice in itself.
“I was a captain this year. And as a senior, you know, you’re a leader of men. You’re sitting there every day helping them. Whether it be physically, academically, mentally,” Castle said. “So I think, through my past four years here, it’s prepared me for a service-type mentality.”
His coach agreed, saying Castle has always carried himself with the demeanor of someone who has plans for their future and he has no doubt that success will follow as he moves from scoring to serving.
But Castle said any success he sees is thanks to those who have helped him get where he is.
“I’d just like to thank my teachers for pouring into me. You all really helped me with letters of recommendation. From Elementary on, I’ve always had teachers that cared about me. I want to thank my family for supporting me with this path. They just told me to ‘go and get it’ and that’s exactly what I did. And I just want to thank everybody who’s congratulated me. It really means a lot and I hope to represent Eastern Kentucky well” Castle said.
He also extended a “special thanks” to Congressman Rogers for his support and nomination.
Castle plans to major in Political Science, called American Politics at The Academy. He said he envisions himself being a career military man, then possibly looking into politics if his path opens up to that after retirement.
“Still trying to process it, but I’m really, really excited for what’s in store and what’s to come,” he said.
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