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Knightstown's Matthew Bourdeau is Henry County's First West Point Cadet in 21 Years
May 28, 2008 - Intellectual, physical, moral-ethical and military responsibilities are just some of the characteristics that will be instilled in Matthew Bourdeau as he makes his way through four years at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Bourdeau attended Knightstown High School his freshman and sophomore years, and went on to graduate from the Indiana Academy of Science, Mathematics and Humanities in Muncie on May 24. Bourdeau was appointed to West Point by 6th Congressional District Congressman Mike Pence. According to Nate LaMar, a 1989 West Point Graduate and Bourdeau’s recruiter, this year’s competition for appointment was fierce.
“Competition was so tough that Matt edged out the son of a West Point graduate who lives elsewhere in the congressional district,” LaMar said.
LaMar, who serves his reserve duty as a military academy liaison officer for Indiana’s sixth congressional district, described Bourdeau as a self-motivated and driven individual. LaMar first met Bourdeau when he was participating in a Henry County Republican Speech Contest. It was Bourdeau’s bearings and personality that made LaMar realize he was the kind of cadet West Point wanted.
“He is very mature,” LaMar said. “He is the most mature high school student you will ever meet. He is very organized and has his act together in every way possible.”
In fact, Bourdeau is the first Henry County resident in 21 years to be appointed, and is one of four students from the 6th Congressional District who received appointment, LaMar said.
For Bourdeau, being appointed was an honor as he has always wanted to do something in the military. As he got older, Bourdeau realized that academics were also extremely important and wanted to do something that would combine the two, and West Point seemed like the best option.
“I accepted humbly, it was not something I expected,” Bourdeau said. “I was blown away and it is an honor in every way.”
Bourdeau begins his seven-week basic training camp on June 30. According to Bourdeau, it is the mental aspects of training, not the physical, that he is nervous about. After completing training, Bourdeau plans to major in pre-law and has aspirations to someday go to law school.
According to LaMar, most core classes at West Point are heavily focused on math, science and engineering. While cadets can major in something in the humanities department such as political science, foreign language or American history, those choosing to do so are required to select a minor from one of five engineering disciplines.
The curriculum and activities at West Point are very difficult, rigorous and structured, LaMar said. Each day begins at 6 a.m. with breakfast formation. Lights are out at midnight, and cadets average about five hours of sleep a night the entire four years they are at West Point.
Developing leadership skills is one aspect that Bourdeau is looking forward to.
“I want to develop personally as a leader,” Bourdeau said. “It’s my key goal to be shaped as a leader for the country.”
Upon graduating from West Point, Bourdeau will serve as an active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Army for a minimum of five years. But this does not phase the young cadet. As of right now, deployment doesn’t scare him and is actually something he looks forward to.
According to the United States Military Academy Web site, in exchange for service, West Point cadets are provided with free tuition, room and board, medical and dental expenses through the U.S. Army.
Each cadet also receives a salary, of which a portion is automatically deducted to pay for items such as uniforms, Bourdeau said.
Before he leaves for training, Bourdeau’s summer plans include spending as much time as possible with friends and family. On May 26, he was honored at the Memorial Day ceremony in New Castle on the East Lawn of the courthouse. It was then that he was presented a certificate of appointment from LaMar, Congressman Pence and on-leave West Point cadet Matthew Rohe of Centerville.
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