By Mitch Lehman
San Marino Tribune
The Rotary Club of San Marino held its 19th annual salute to local appointees to U.S. service academies at a lunch meeting last week, where six appointees and their families were given a guidance from West Point graduate as they were acknowledged for their acceptance into the academies.
The appointees included Daniel Serna, who has been accepted into the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; Aidan Wong, who is headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy; Ephram Teran, who is going to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; and Makaila Cheng and Ephraim Choi, who have been accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy, and Liliana Feyk and Leo Salazar are joining the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
The meeting’s keynote speaker was Miles Nash, a member of the West Point graduating Class of 2006. Nash was also a graduate of Pasadena Polytechnic High School. He said that he was inspired at West Point by Frank Petersen Jr., a U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant general, who was the first African American Marine Corps general.
“Here is someone who is the same color as me,” Nash said about Petersen.
Nash graduated from West Point with a degree in foreign languages, Russian and Arabic, and was a third regiment Green Beret. Afterward, he attended USC’s Marshall School of Business, and eventually went on to work for Rep. Adam Schiff, who gave him his appointment.
“I am excited for your future,” Nash said. “It will challenge you in many ways and you will all succeed. No matter what I embark on — all these things were embedded in me at West Point.
“As they say, iron will sharpen iron, and that is very true,” he added.
Nash also said that the relationships he made at West Point are now among his longest-lasting friendships, and he said the same will probably be true of the new appointees.
“Before you lead, you will learn to follow,” he said. “The essential skill of following has been taught at the academy since 1803. This will cause you to face your weaknesses. It is up to you to take advantage of the preparedness that your academies will teach you.”
The audience became silent when Nash said that he had chosen West Point because of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He said that later he wanted to become a pilot “but that is part of the process as well.”
Nash said that he joined the special forces and encouraged the new appointees to “take a look at it.”
He said that the Army is in as many as 120 different countries at once and that “ignorance is not an excuse … at least not in what we do.”
Speaking to the new appointees and their parents, Nash encouraged them to:
- “Embrace the process.”
- “Your reputation is your currency.”
- “Never be condescending.”
- “People are everything. People are more important than hardware. The right people will accomplish the mission with the equipment available.”
- “If you serve long enough, you will learn that war does not end for some people.”
- “Invest in yourself.”
- “Remember why you chose this path.”
- “Communicate with your family. Let them into your new life.”
Nash then repeated what is a familiar motto at West Point: “Embrace the suck,” as the audience roared in laughter.
He revealed that he also applied to and was accepted at the U.S. Naval Academy but that he “got seasick,” which eventually limited his options.
Nash also encouraged the appointees to take their new tasks “one day at a time,” he said.
“That’s all you can do.”