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West Point, Annapolis or Colorado Springs?
Charles Garcia during a JROTC presentation at the Lathrop veterans memorial. - photo by Photo Contributed

Charles Garcia has a tough decision to make.

In the coming weeks, the Lathrop High senior will choose either the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs or the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

“I keep on going back and forth on this decision,” Garcia said Wednesday during baseball practice.

He’s a catcher for the Spartans – Garcia has played baseball all four years at the school not to mention two years of football – and was selected captain of this year’s squad.

He recently eliminated West Point, home of the US Military Academy, where he was also accepted.

During his recent visit, Garcia was shown around West Point by his buddy Ross Downum, who is also from Lathrop High.

Downum, who was the first-ever from LHS accepted to West Point, is in his second year at the military academy.

“I declined (West Point) with a heavy heart,” said Garcia, who has a 4.2 grade point average.

He’s a well-rounded student, having been selected to the Manteca Unified Honor Band while maintaining perfect attendance last year, and earning a gold medal in Science at the Academic Decathlon.

He’s already had a taste of the Air Force Academy. Last June, Garcia was picked for the Air Force Academy summer session. “I was on campus for five days where I was also cadet for a day,” said Garcia.

Added his father, Chuck Garcia, who is also an assistant coach for the Spartans baseball team: “My son has always dreamed about going to the Air Force Academy.”

The reason for that, according to the younger Garcia, was based on his love for flying. “I’ve always been fascinated about planes, especially their precision in the air and the freedom while being up there,” he said.

Garcia enjoyed West Point but was awed by his visit to the Naval Academy. He and his family made the four-hour drive from New York to Maryland, home of the Midshipman.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” said Garcia. “The (buildings) were influenced by the Palace of Versailles.”

His decision is due at the end of the month,

“I think he’ll decide sooner rather than later,” said the older Garcia.

Since seventh grade, Charles Garcia had aimed at becoming a fighter pilot.

He’s always dreamed of flying jets and knows that the Air Force Academy or Naval Academy will be his ticket.

His parents Chuck and Elena have seen all the hard work he’s put forth during the past several years.

Charles Garcia is also involved in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp under the leadership of Venjie Goes and Brian Williams. He was an assistant drum major, trumpet section leader in the band, and Academic Decathlon team leader.

Garcia, who attended Joseph Widmer Jr. School has been in the Jazz Band, the Hispanic Youth Leadership Club, and a long list of volunteer endeavors – Thanksgiving food give away, Sober Graduation Committee, Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca Telethon, LHS Athletic Boosters, Spartans Little League Baseball Camp, Relay for Life, Memorial Day (he played with the band and performed Taps), and academic tutoring, to name a few.

If he picks the Navy, Garcia must be in Annapolis by July 1. If he chooses the Air Force, he’s scheduled to be in Colorado Springs by June 26.

“I know I’ll be happy on whatever decision I make,” he said.