Spc. Drake Mann, of West Plains, Mo. is scheduled to attend West Point. (Photo by M. Queiser, Missouri National Guard)
By M. Queiser
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - Growing up, Spc. Drake Mann, of West Plains, always knew he wanted to join the military.
"I used to watch military movies and documentaries all the time as a kid," said Mann, 21. "I knew that that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to West Point since I was in middle school."
In July 2008 he joined the Missouri National Guard. After Army basic training and advanced individual training as an intelligence analyst, Mann was assigned to Headquarters, 205th Military Police Battalion in Poplar Bluff.
Mann's work ethic and dedication was quickly noticed by his fellow Soldiers.
"We saw he had a lot of potential and would be a good candidate for officer school," said Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Ladyman, readiness noncommissioned officer for the battalion.
Mann's unit sent him to a future leader's conference, and it was there that he realized his lifelong dream of attending West Point could still be possible.
After four months of applications, paperwork and a physical fitness test, he got the call he'd been waiting eight years for. West Point said he was in.
"I am so honored that I get to go," said Mann. "It's not an easy feat to do. Getting in is extremely hard for anybody. To go as a Guardsman means a lot."
His achievement has inspired many Soldiers in his unit, who have fondly nicknamed him 'West Point.'
"We're very proud of him," said Ladyman. "It's a real honor just as an active duty Soldier to go, but to have a small, home town guy like Drake go is a big deal for him and for the unit."
He owes a lot to his unit and fellow Guardsmen and hopes to make them proud, said Mann.
"I can't let them down," he said.
Mann reports to the school in July.
"It's an amazing school," said Mann. "I'm looking forward to the atmosphere, education and military training."
In four years, after his graduation and commission as a second lieutenant, Mann looks forward to his future military career.
"I plan on being in the military my entire life," said Mann. "I want to be a four-star general and be in the Pentagon some day. You have to aim big."
Mann is supported in his military career by his parents David and Kathy Mann, of West Plains, and Laura Barns, of Kansas City.
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