ANDERSON – It’s a tough process to be accepted into one of the nation’s military academies but an Anderson family will have two siblings attending West Point.
Aunikah King, 19, is following her older brother, Joseph, 22, into West Point on the bluffs overlooking the Hudson River in New York.
Their mother, Anikka King, works in the Economic Development Department of the city of Anderson.
The siblings were raised in Anderson, and the family moved to Florida where Joseph was nominated by Rep. Ander Crenshaw and Aunika was nominated by Rep. John Rutherford.
Joseph is entering his third year at West Point, and Aunikah is beginning the plebe year.
To be considered for a position at a military academy the individual has to have an outstanding academic record, be nominated by a member of Congress and then be accepted for enrollment.
“I didn’t want the typical college experience,” Joseph said. “I was recruited for football, which had an impact. I started thinking about what I could do to be a better leader.
“I thought about the opportunity to be able to lead soldiers one day,” he continued. “The greatest honor you can get.”
Joseph did play football in his first year and is now playing handball.
“I was excited when I learned I was nominated,” he said. “I had a friend attending the Air Force Academy who helped me through the process. Being nominated was just one step closer.”
Joseph said he couldn’t believe he was accepted.
“My mom saw all the hard work paid off,” he said.
Aunikah said her experience was different and her interest was piqued after visiting West Point.
“I was gaining insight from him and, visiting West Point, I could envision myself being a cadet,” she said. “I started liking the whole West Point community and the opportunities.”
She will be playing soccer for the academy.
“My brother has always been my greatest inspiration, copied everything he has done,” Aunikah said. “I always looked up to my big brother.”
One of the unique experiences will take place when the siblings meet on the West Point campus.
“She will have to be at parade rest when speaking to me and will have to call me sergeant,” Joseph said as he laughed. “I’ll make sure she’s squared away.”
He said the first year at West Point was pretty tough.
“Growing up, I was a natural leader and having to follow orders was the toughest thing — the transformation from being a civilian to being a cadet,” Joseph said.
Both of them will be required to serve five years active duty upon graduation and three years in the reserves.
Joseph is hoping to be assigned to an airborne unit or air defense after leaving West Point.
Aunikah is hoping to receive training in air defense or to serve with the adjunct general’s office.
“We don’t come from a family with a military background,” Joseph said. “Our family members had to learn about the history of West Point.”
He has attended the past annual Army/Navy football games and said it is an experience that can’t be put into words.
“They say it’s the only game in the world where everyone is willing to die for each other,” he said.
Anikka King said she was in awe when they were both accepted.
“I was shocked when Joseph said he wanted to go to West Point,” she said. “As a single mother, I was thinking that God didn’t forget about us.”
Anikka said her daughter has always followed in her brother’s footsteps.
“It was surreal for me when she was accepted to West Point,” she said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.