The Long Gray Journey: The demanding transformation
By USMA Cadet Derek A. MingesJuly 20, 2017
The transformation from civilian to U.S. Army officer is long, demanding, and may take different forms. Routes to commissioning are diverse: some future officers begin the 47-month West Point experience following high school graduation, while others commission from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and others through Officer Candidate School.
Then there is the unique path taken by Class of 2018 Cadet Cory Pinkley in his journey from enlisted Soldier to Firstie at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
In 2009, inspired by his father, Pinkley enlisted in the Army to become a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
During his time in at Bragg, he deployed with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, before becoming a non-commissioned officer and a scout squad leader with the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
During this time as a paratrooper, Pinkley realized the impact that platoon leaders and company commanders have on their organizations.
"I liked being an NCO," Pinkley stated, "But as an officer, you make lasting organizational changes."
This realization inspired Pinkley's dream to impact the Army as a commissioned leader of character.
Pinkley earned admission to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 2013 and, this summer, he has returned as the Bravo Company commander during Cadet Candidate Basic Training.
Pinkley is now entering his Firstie year at West Point and plans to branch Infantry and serve as a rifle platoon leader.
He credits his success to his family and friends, and mentors, specifically Majs. Wesley Stewart and Peter Salfeety.
Though his journey is not typical, Pinkley's experience as a Soldier, cadet candidate and cadet highlights the myriad of paths and opportunities which the U.S. Military Academy, as well as other commissioning sources, employ to develop America's sons and daughters into commissioned leaders of character.
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