West Point Cadet Returns to Campbell HighMarch 28, 2014
by Marc Ayotte
Former Campbell High student Chuck Neild, who during his Cougar athletic career donned the red-and-white uniforms of the baseball, basketball and football teams, came back to his old stomping grounds on Monday, March 25. This time he was wearing a different color uniform: the gray and black representing the United States Military Academy at West Point.
A former captain on the gridiron as well as president of the CHS Class of 2012, Neild is in his second year (affectionately referred to as a ‘Yuk’) and continues to show his leadership qualities; majoring in chemistry and undergoing military training as he prepares to enter the army as a commissioned officer (2nd Lieutenant) when he graduates in 2016.
His brief return home was not all R&R. “The admissions office has a program for us to go around to high schools and inform people about West Point,” explained Neild. As part of his extended leave from duties at The Academy, Neild made a couple of appearances in CHS classrooms which included a description of the educational as well as military opportunities West Point offers, followed by a question-and-answer session.
The first class he addressed was that of Mr. Ballou’s, and in attendance, by chance, was Chuck’s sister, Hannah. He then visited a classroom under the auspices of social studies teacher Dennis Perreault and English teacher Erin Brown where he engaged in a more interactive exchange with several students as well as with Perreault, Brown and other teachers in the room at the time. “They’re about as good as you can get,” reflected Neild of Perreault and Brown, adding; “they work really well together.”
Based out of the Guidance Department office, his visit was epitomized by a constant stream of former classmates and teachers, greeting him in the hallways, welcoming him back as well as thanking him for his service to the country. After his brief one-day stint at CHS, Neild was scheduled to spend the next day speaking on behalf of The Academy to students at Manchester West and Nashua North. Outside of those military obligations, he admitted he was just hanging out at home and meeting with old friends.
“It’s very challenging,” revealed Neild of the West Point experience, adding; “that’s why I chose to go there – it’s pretty unique.” According to Neild, cadets are graded on “three pillars of education”: academics, physical performance and military leadership, where he is currently ranked about 300th in a class of nearly 1,100 cadets. “It’s really rare for someone to be great in all areas,” he admitted.
Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree, he is obligated to serve five years in the Army followed by a subsequent three years in the reserves. With respect to leaving his audience with a few thoughts and observations from his experience thus far, Neild admitted that he is now more accountable and focused than he was in high school, and that he believed that being a sport captain on the diamond and gridiron helped him the most with respect to advancing his leadership skills at The Academy.
In saying to students “apply yourself now,” Neild encouraged them to be involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, class office, boys and girls state, Boy Scouts, community service and alike. When asked if he had any regrets about his decision to attend West Point, the revered Campbell graduate replied without hesitation, “Nope, I’m in a good place.” And with fine young men such as Charles Thomas Neild III training to become our future military leaders, so too, is the United States of America in a good place.