WOODS CROSS – When Bountiful High graduate Wyatt Frasier first considered attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his parents didn’t have any idea what it was, he said.
Two years later, the cadet is holding meetings praising the academy and encouraging high school students to apply.
The Braves’ offensive guard had considered attending BYU or the University of Utah, but heard about the academy from a former U.S. Marine Corps officer in his church.
“I’ve always been inclined to something that’s not typical, that’s extraordinary,” he said during a trip back to Utah. “It was kind of an adventure.”
Frasier has moved from being a plebe (freshman) to a YUC (young upperclassman) at the academy. He’s part of a class of about 1,200 men and women who will graduate as commissioned officers in the U.S. Army. Tuition at West Point is free, but attendance comes with a commitment to serve in the military for at least five years after graduation.
Acceptance to the academy requires recommendation from a congressional representative or senator and a physical test, strong academic background and personal history of leadership and a well-rounded personality, Frasier said.
The acceptance rate is between 12 percent and 13 percent, and will likely drop as the military changes to a peacetime force.
Cadets can study almost anything at the academy, which is a four-year liberal arts institution in New York.
The army academy was established in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson, and Frasier can rattle off almost all the details of its history since then. A high school debate champion, the cadet is well spoken and self-assured, and knows more about national politics than most people twice his age.
Frasier is studying American policy and is considering a minor in grand strategy. Already, he aims to help bridge the gap between the military and the general public.
“The divide becomes more and more as we don’t have a draft anymore,” he said. “(Having a volunteer army) also results in the war just being something you watch on TV at night.”
Frasier is also concerned that the military isn’t doing a good job of bridging that gap. He told about a speech by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in which he and other cadets were warned not to have a “superiority complex” over their civilian counterparts.
The defense institution as a whole needs to be aware of the problem, he said.
“It’s disconcerting seeing a lot of misconduct among senior officers and things like that, so the military needs to really understand that perception is reality,” he said. “We’re really the same. There should be no gap between civilians and the military.”
Frasier will soon leave on a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but will then return to the academy.
Already, his grand adventure has included visits with U.S. senators, rappelling hundreds of feet from Blackhawk helicopters, studying at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and more.
“It has been an absolutely incredible experience for me,” he said.