Lielvarde, Latvia- Snow blanketed the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment's airfield, where Charlie Company holds their weekly formation. 1st Sgt. Misty DiChristina's voice reverberated in the cold Latvian air as she called Spc. Thai Davis to the front.
Amid a European rotation supporting NATO, Davis received uplifting news, an appointment to the prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
The photographer took pictures while Davis held his official acceptance note with a wide smile. Behind him, the 1st Armored Division Triangle was emblazoned on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Amid cheers and calls of congratulations, his battle buddies surrounded him with pats on the back.
Davis is proud to be from Chicago, Illinois. Like many from military families, he moved around a lot as a kid. Initially, Davis wanted to be an aviator, but due to being born with bad eyesight, he chose to pursue a career as a crew chief instead. He always envisioned returning to college but preferred in-person learning environments. After talking with mentors across the organization, Davis applied to West Point.
"Better to try and fail than to not try at all," said Davis as he reflected on his admission chances. Luckily, Davis' leadership was fully invested. To help him achieve his dream, Lt. Col. Justin Swanson wrote him a letter of recommendation, his platoon sergeant helped him complete the physical assessment, and his first sergeant, platoon leader, and mother were always there to answer questions and offer support.
When he received his official acceptance note, his first thought was gratitude.
"I am extremely appreciative of all the support from my mom and my chain of command for all their help," Davis said.
Swanson responded to the good news by saying, "We are immensely proud of Spc. Davis and his accomplishment. He embodies the Army's Be All You Can Be mentality. I hope his success motivates others to pursue their goals."
Even more exciting, West Point accepted Davis' younger sister, Talia, into the same graduating class.
"Spc. Davis always comes to work with an enthusiastic attitude, and I hope he will be able to spread that energy to the Soldiers he leads in the future," his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Abigail Wingfield reflected.
Davis heads off to New York this summer and will spend the next 47 months enduring challenging military and physical events while earning an undergraduate degree. As one of a handful of prior enlisted cadets in the class of 2027, he can use his military expertise and knowledge to assist himself and his classmates throughout their time at West Point.
The intense program builds character and military skills and teaches leadership among the Corps of Cadets. However, not all memories will be grueling, as West Point is famed for its strong traditions and unique culture. The Combat Aviation Brigade of the 1st Armored Division boasts 47 West Point graduates, six of whom served time as enlisted Soldiers before attending West Point. Upon graduation, the Davis siblings will commission into the U.S. Army as second lieutenants.
The 3-501st AHB and 1st Armored Division leadership encourage Soldiers to pursue their professional ambitions. Leaders in the Army often use terms like professional development and leadership experience. In truth, Soldiers must chase their dreams with their command's support and encouragement. Like many enlisted Soldiers before them, Charlie Company, 3-501st AHB, and the Army have entrusted the Davises with the challenging yet rewarding duties of officership.
To apply to West Point, Soldiers need to complete the application found online (link provided below) and meet eligibility requirements. These siblings showcase a revival of the Army legacy: the courage to chase after their dreams and to "Be All You Can Be."