Johnson on his way to West Point
Chad Johnson of De Soto concluded an illustrious career that culminated in being honored as an Eagle Scout. A day later, he embarked on a new path at the United States Military Academy.
Johnson received his Eagle Scout award on Saturday and noted that only two percent of all boy scouts reach Eagle Scout status. Johnson was a cub scout and boy scout throughout his youth, moving from Lenexa to De Soto in the seventh grade.
"It took some years, but the campouts and meetings were fun," Johnson said. "I learned a lot of details about camping and some of it may be useful at West Point."
Johnson said he would hit the ground running as he departs the fun days of the youthful association to enter the rigorous training of the military. He plans on proudly displaying the pin of his past during the beginning days of his military career.
"The only civilian award that they will let you wear in the military is an Eagle pin," Johnson said.
Johnson recently enjoyed the conclusion of his civilian days during a trip to Juneau, Alaska where he went mountain climbing and hiking.
His basic training, which included going under barbed wire and shooting M-16 rifles, began on the West Point campus this week. Johnson, who competed for the De Soto High School cross country and track teams, plans on becoming a walk-on athlete for Army's cross country and track teams. Johnson competed in the 800-meter, one mile, two mile and 4x800-relay events for the Wildcats.
Johnson, who will study computer science at the academy, had his heart set on attending Baker University in Baldwin until he attended an informational meeting about West Point.
"I was almost 99 percent sure that I wanted to go to Baker," Johnson said. "West Point is academically like the Ivy League schools and their leadership program is great."
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback nominated Johnson for West Point, but he didn't receive his final acceptance until May 10. Johnson said he feels fortunate that his hard work paid off and that he will be determined to succeed at the academy.
"Some of it was determination and I had a strong family and community behind me," Johnson said. "I learned a lot of discipline and did well in school."
Throughout his life, Johnson has researched and taken interest in the life of his late great-grandfather Col. Lester B. Johnson, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He said it was his great-grandfather's background that helped pique his interest in the military life.
Johnson knows that the academic work, which includes 20 credit hours per semester, will be rigorous.
"I'm ready, but it's still going to be hard," Johnson said. "I have a dedication to my schoolwork and I've strived to do the best I could in my classes."
Johnson has been an active community member in De Soto and at the high school. He participated in plays, musicals and choir for the high school and helped an elderly woman clean up her mobile home. He also worked on a beautification project near De Soto High School, where he and fellow students planted trees on the school grounds. Johnson said he plans on carrying the things that he learned in the community to West Point.
"The whole thing will be tough, but people say if you can make it through the first six weeks you will make it through," Johnson said. "You have to take it one day at a time to try to get through it."