Story and Photo by
Sgt. Gaelen Lowers
8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs
WAIKIKI — The first Wednesday of February marks the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding national letter of intent for college football with the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
This year, the state of Hawaii celebrated one of its own, Kyle Fleming, by watching him make the decision to sign with the U.S. Military Academy, at the Sheraton Hotel, here, Feb. 1.
Fleming, a middle linebacker for Waimea High School on the island of Kauai, had his choice of several schools, but chose to join the distinguished 1,000 or so cadets who are accepted into the academy.
“Coach (Payam Saadat, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach) flew out and stuck with me the whole time,” Fleming said.
Although the personal attention Fleming received from Saadat helped him make his decision, it was his trip to the campus in West Point, N.Y., that made him put ink to paper.
“I took the trip out there last weekend, and that is what really opened my eyes to what West Point is all about, athletically and academically,” Fleming said.
West Point educates, trains and inspires its student body, or corps of cadets, so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of duty, honor and country.
The Corps of Cadets numbers 4,400, and each year, about 1,000 cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
“We’re very proud of him and his accomplishments, leadership and character,” said Allison Toma, Fleming’s mother. “That is what brought him to this point in his life. I believe West Point is a good institution. Not only will he get a good education, but (it will) also build (his) character.”
Fleming said that he was looking forward to the opportunity to join the ranks of famous alumni: Buzz Aldrin, astronaut, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Medal of Honor recipient, as well as many other historical figures.
“I’m very excited,” Fleming said. “It’s a big step. I feel a little overwhelmed, but extremely honored. Me, a little guy from the island of Kauai, will be going to West Point and having this opportunity.”
Fleming has made a five-year commitment to the Army after his West Point graduation, but hasn’t quite decided what direction he wants to take his military career.
“I was initially looking at the Corps of Engineers, but I never realized that there were so many choices, so I will have to really look everything over and decide what fits me best.”