Matthew Shockley, 17, had his choice of military academies to attend after graduation. He completed the arduous process of applying to the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy at West Point earlier this school year and was surprised to find out in March that he was accepted into all three.
"I was just hoping for one," Shockley said. "I was pretty excited. My parents brought it to me at school."
After his mother, Tonya, heard that West Point letters were being mailed, she said she would leave work every day at lunch to drive home and check the mail.
"On the third day, the mail was late, so I drove around until I found the mailman, climbed through a ditch and asked him if he had any mail for me," Tonya said in an email. "He handed me the envelope (from West Point) and I just started crying right there on the side of the road. I was so excited."
They learned soon after that Shockley had received appointments to the other academies as well, leaving him with a choice to make -- which branch of the military to join.
He chose the Army, following in the footsteps of his father, who served five years in the Army in the late 1990s.
As an "Army brat" herself, Tonya said she was always rooting for West Point to be her son's final choice.
"I tried to be supportive while Matt was choosing, but the USMA shirts I was wearing every day may have given me away," she said.