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Lathrop High grad completes basic training
Lathrop High School graduate Ross Downum is pictured with his parents, Darrin and Shari Downum, and his sister Sierra in a picture taken during the ceremony marking his completion of his cadet basic training at West Point. - photo by Photo Contributed

LATHROP — Ross Downum, the first graduate of Lathrop High School to be accepted to any of the military academies, has completed his cadet basic training at West Point. He began his classes at the U.S. Military Academy in New York on Aug. 20, according to his mother, Shari Downum.

She and her husband and daughter Sierra, who attends Lathrop High, all attended the ceremony that marked the cadet’s completion of his basic training.

The six weeks of training, or CBT, which is also referred to as Beast Barracks, “is one of the most challenging events a cadet will encounter over the course of their four years at the academy, said the cadet’s proud mother.

“The initial military training program provides cadets with basic skills to instill discipline, pride, cohesion, confidence and a high sense of duty to prepare them for entry into the Corps of Cadets,” she added.

The summer instruction included first aid, mountaineering, hard grenades, rifle marksmanship and nuclear, biological, and chemical training, she further explained.

The graduate of Lathrop High’s Class of 2012 is now part of the USMA Class of 2016 which new class motto is “With Honor We Lead.” Downum’s plan is to graduate from West Point in 2016 and then be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

West Point’s curriculum offers 45 majors leading to a Bachelor of Science degree.

Downum was actually nominated by Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced) to two military academies – West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolist, Maryland.

In an earlier interview following his nomination by Cardoza, and while he was contemplating on which military path to choose, Downum recalled that his father Darrin, a 24-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department, always told his son: “Be whatever you want to be as long as it makes you happy.”

By choosing to study at West Point preparatory to a future career in the military, the young Downum is continuing a three-generation family tradition in law enforcement. His grandfather was also a longtime Oakland cop before he became a deputy sheriff in Calaveras County. The cadet’s mother is a human resources director working San Ramon.

Ranked number 28 in his 2012 Class of 278 seniors at Lathrop High, Downum said during an interview at the end of last school year that he planned on following the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“I always knew I wanted to serve (in the military) in one way or another,” he said. He added that while in eighth grade, he already had an inkling that he “wanted to go to West Point” but it was during his junior year in high school that he “really started doing something about it.”