By Susan Redden
WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Malachi Leece, of Webb City, is on his way to West Point.
The Webb City High School senior signed documents formally accepting his appointment in ceremonies Tuesday at the high school.
Leece, who is JROTC battalion commander at Webb City and a private second class in the Missouri National Guard, was nominated under the guard’s Soldier Admissions Program.
Guard officials from Jefferson City, Springfield and Joplin were on hand for Tuesday’s signing ceremony, along with Leece’s family and a large crowd of Webb City High School students.
Only 2 percent of those who apply to West Point are selected, but Leece’s application stood out, said Capt. Travis Miller. He said he wrote a recommendation to Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the Missouri National Guard’s adjutant general, who made the nomination.
“When I read his resume, I thought, ‘When does he sleep?’’’ Miller said.
In addition to his JROTC and guard service, Leece said he is in the high school’s French and science clubs, reads to elementary children, and is involved with organizations that work with Special Olympics and conduct blood drives.
“I’m really excited; I can’t wait,” Leece said of his appointment. “This way, I’ll be able to pay back the country that’s given so much to me.”
Leece was born in Vietnam and raised in Webb City by Lee and Johnna Duncan.
He was adopted at 9 months and “has spent his life in Webb City,” Johnna Duncan said.
“This is something he’s always been interested in,” she said. “We never pushed him; he’s always pushed himself.”
Duncan said she also is excited and proud about the appointment, “but I’m not all that excited about him being that far from home.”
Leece, who will leave for West Point in July, said he wants to be a pilot. He will graduate from West Point as a second lieutenant, then will have to attend flight school.
Leece enlisted in the Missouri National Guard in March 2012, said his recruiter, Staff Sgt. Eddie Hukill, of the guard’s Joplin recruiting office.
“He’s really smart,” Hukill said. “He knows how to take charge; he knows how to lead.”
The nomination also received a letter of support from U.S. Rep. Billy Long.
THE U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY at West Point, N.Y., founded in 1802, is the oldest military academy in the U.S.