Ready to lead

Published 11:59 pm Friday, June 5, 2009

Michael Dubose said he doesn’t know why he wanted to be a part of the U.S. Army, but just that it “felt like what I was born to do.”

Dubose graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Sat., May 23. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry branch, and will soon report to Ft. Benning, Ga., to undergo training for special forces.

Dubose, who graduated from Pleasant Home School in 2004, said his graduation from West Point was a time for celebration for not only himself, but also his family.

“I don’t think military families get enough thanks for putting up with their loved ones being gone for so long,” he said. “My family had been away for five years and I know they missed me, and I missed them. (Graduation) was kind of a reward for all their time and patience with me being gone.”

Dubose also said graduation was a humbling experience, because he is now an alumnus of an institution that has produced many leaders — including U.S. presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower and famous American generals George S. Patton and Douglas MacArthur.

“It was very humbling to know those great men who went through what I went through,” he said. “They walked the same roads, they studied in the same classrooms and slept in the same dorms. And the class I graduated with, they’re also amazing people; I guarantee you at least one or two of these men and women will someday be the leaders of our country.”

Dubose’s time at West Point was grueling, as cadets at the academy not only face strict academic requirements but are also required to meet certain physical standards. Dubose said he estimates that he probably “averaged four hours of sleep” during his time at West Point.

“Every cadet also had a special responsibility — one semester I was the assistant regimental supply officer and I was in charge of getting all our supplies for training, and things like that,” he said. “Then you’ve got 20 credit-hours of academics, as well as three hours for required athletic work.

“It was tough, and there were certainly a few times where I really wondered if I had made the right decision.”

Even despite his busy schedule, Dubose said he managed to find time to have fun, and that those times will be some of his most cherished memories from attending the academy.

“I’ll always remember my friends, and the times when we were able to get away with things,” he said. “I’ll remember coming in late after ‘Taps’ and sneaking past the (officer-in-charge), or sneaking up onto the roofs of the barracks with my friends, or getting a cigar to celebrate somebody’s birthday.

“And I’ll remember the beauty of a summer afternoon; the Hudson River valley is a beautiful place. I don’t think I’ll ever go anywhere else and find anything to equal it.”

Dubose said he is not aware of any other family members who were in the military, and that it was just a career he chose on his own.

“Some kids grow up wanting to be a doctor, or a vet, and I just always wanted to be in the Army,” he said. “As a kid, I’d watch all the Saturday morning cartoons and everything, but then at night I’d be watching the History Channel, or (The Learning Channel) or Discovery Channel.

“Up at West Point, we were doing (a training mission) and I was supposed to help my unit take down this ‘town.’ I was in the Stryker (military vehicle) yelling commands to my troops like ‘shirt fire’ and ‘lift fire,’ and I remember the dust and the sounds and everything.

“Even though it was just an exercise, I can still remember the adrenaline rush — it was the biggest thrill I’ve ever had. Once I got out there, everything just seemed to come naturally to me. I just feel like it was something I was literally born to do.”

Dubose will spend a year with special training at Ft. Benning, before going to Ft. Hood, Texas. He eventually expects to be sent to Afghanistan.

“My classmates and I went into West Point knowing that we were at war and that it’s a war we’re going to be fighting for a while,” he said. “I think that everything we’ve done at West Point was to prepare us for when we get over there (to the Middle East). In a way, I’m kind of looking forward to it, because it will be my test on how well I’ve trained and prepared.

“I went to West Point in order to become a leader, and I know that one day I’ll have men’s lives in my hands. I believe this experience has prepared me for that, and look forward to that test.”

Dubose is the son of Diane and Mike Dubose of Andalusia. He has two sisters, Michelle Hunter and Nikki Guilford.