Taylor Brooks graduates from West Point

Ozark Countian Taylor Brooks was in the U.S. Military Academy class of 2019 as it paraded on “The Plain” during recent graduation exercises at West Point.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Charles Brooks, of Dora, salutes his newly commissioned son, Taylor, following the West Point graduation and commissioning ceremonies.

Gainesville residents Doris and Wayne Sayles pin the second lieutenant epaulettes to the uniform of Taylor Brooks, a 2015 graduate of Dora High School – and a 2019 West Point graduate. Photos by Wayne Sayles

An impressive cadre of 987 members from the West Point class of 2019 joined the U.S. Military Academy’s “Long Gray Line” on Saturday, May 25, and took the first step in their new lives as soldiers and leaders in the  Army. The historic Michie Stadium, site of many classic Army football games, was filled with family, friends and former graduates sharing this very special moment.   

Vice President Mike Pence delivered an inspiring and emotional address to the cadets assembled before him and assured them that the work they will do has never been more important. As baccalaureate diplomas were presented by high-ranking Army and Academy officials, Pence shook the hand of every graduate. At the conclusion of the program, the air was literally filled with the sparkling white hats tossed by the now-former cadets. The effect was breathtaking, heartwarming and impossible to adequately describe.  

 Among those so honored was Taylor Brooks, a 2015 graduate of Dora High School. Those who knew that young boy four years ago and followed his remarkable journey saw quite a different person on this day of personal achievement and recognition. The regimen of West Point served him well in every respect, and the result is an Army officer willing and able to lead men and women in difficult times.

Taylor is the first student from an Ozark County school to graduate from West Point since Rob Krieg in 1994. Attending the ceremony from the Ozarks were Taylor’s father, Charles Brooks from Dora; friends Mark Rich and Beverly Davison from rural Douglas County; the Hamby family from Ava; and Wayne and Doris Sayles of Gainesville.

Following the graduation exercises, a commissioning ceremony was held at Trophy Point overlooking the majestic Hudson River.  There, Taylor was sworn in as an officer by Maj. David Danford, one of his academy instructors, followed by the pinning of his second-lieutenant shoulder boards by Doris and Wayne Sayles. His father, a retired Army staff sergeant in uniform for the event, then approached Taylor and rendered the traditional “first salute.”

Taylor is home on leave briefly and will be returning to West Point on a temporary duty assignment before proceeding to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Ranger training. His first permanent-duty assignment will be with a mechanized infantry unit at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Ozark County Times

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