JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS –U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Commanding General Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster recognized Advanced Individual Training Soldier Pfc. Samuel Olson on his acceptance to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point during a coin ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston March 30, 2022.
Olson, from Woodebury, Minnesota, who is currently training to become a 68W Combat Medic and is assigned to Foxtrot Company, 232nd Medical Battalion, 32nd Medical Brigade, was ecstatic to learn of the good news, as was as his local leadership.
“PFC Olson has proven to be an outstanding leader,” said 1st Sgt. Roger M. Lariviere, Foxtrot Company, 232nd Medical Battalion. “He is passionate about combat medicine and has done his best to learn medical skills that will be an asset in any unit. It was because of this desire and drive that he applied to attend West Point.”
The road to West Point wasn’t a straight or planned path.
After he graduated from high school in 2019, Olson attended college for two years and had planned on joining the Reserve Officer Training Corps and work toward becoming a U.S. Army officer. However, his priorities changed, and he felt he wanted to go in a different direction. Thus, he visited his local recruiter and joined the U.S. Army Reserves.
While in college, he was on a pre-medical track, as he had been interested in medicine while in high school. Therefore, it was a natural fit for him to train as a 68W Combat Medic.
Yet his goal was to serve as an Army officer, and he looked into the possibility of attending West Point. Olson began the process of applying to the military academy while still attending Basic Combat Training (BCT) in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Normally it can take up to a year to complete an application, yet he was able to complete his application in six weeks.
He received encouragement from his family and friends and was nominated by his unit commander, Cpt. William Anderson from the 477th Medical Company. Working hard, he finished his application package the day before he completed BCT in October 2021.
Reflecting on his experience in BCT and now at Advanced Individual Training (AIT), Olson feels his training to become a 68W Combat Medic will help him in the future. His plan is to study Chinese and later commission as an infantry officer. “A good leader should be focused on his team,” said Olson. “My goal is to serve in combat infantry and add my name to the list of others that have fought bravely before me.”
While infantry is a change from combat medicine, Olson understands the vital importance of saving lives on the battlefield.
“I owe those warriors the best leadership they could possibly have because anything less may result in their deaths,” said Olson.
It was because of this desire and drive that he applied to attend West Point.
When asked what advice he would give to someone applying to West Point, Olson said, “Make sure it is what you want. Be determined. It is a lot of work: writing essays, securing nominations, tracking down past teachers for recommendations. It has to be something you really want.”
He is currently holding the Class 33-22 Student First Sergeant position and is set to graduate from AIT on May 23, 2022. After finishing AIT, Olson will have a month to spend with his family before beginning the next phase of his Army career, starting Cadet Basic Training at West Point in late June.
To learn more about West Point and the application process, visit https://www.westpoint.edu/.