It’s not often that a person gets to live the dream they have wished for since they were a kid, but South Panola High School senior, Eli Campbell, always knew his dream of being in the military would come true.
“Growing up, those were my heroes,” he said. “I loved war movies.”
Campbell has also had family members serve their country. “I”ve got a few people in my family that were in the military,” he said. “My uncle was a marine. There are a couple Vietnam veterans and World War II veterans. It just keeps on going down the line.”
Campbell was accepted into a prestigious military academy where over 40,000 applicants apply a year. “I applied and got accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York,” he said. “It’s one of the most prestigious in the world.”
Many people can only dream of getting accepted to the school of their dreams. Campbell described his reaction when he got that special phone call.
“After powerlifting practice, I got a call Steve Guyton,” he said. “He told me to get somewhere quiet and stay off of my phone . . . I went and got in my car, and I kind of knew what was coming after he called me. Then Senator (Roger) Wicker called me and asked me if I wanted to go to West Point. I didn’t even know what to say. I just said, ‘Yes.’ “
Campbell is sure that attending West Point will be beneficial for his future. “It’s like four years of being pushed and driven as a person,” he said, “and after that, I’ll have a guaranteed job in the United States Army for at least five years or more if I want it.”
Although Campbell did a lot of the heavy lifting, he credits one of his best friends, Quentin Perkins, for supporting him and keeping him on track.
“Me and Quen have known each other for about three or fours now through our ROTC program when we met at in high school,” he said. “We taught each other a lot. He taught me how to take things seriously and how to get things done on time. He taught me things like knowing how to have fun, but (to) also get the job done at the same time.”Campbell and Perkins developed a strong brotherhood during their time in ROTC. “One word can’t describe Eli,” Perkins said. “I didn’t like him at first. I can’t remember why, but with ROTC, we gained a sort of brother relationship together. We had to do a lot of things together. We were the ones who were most trusted to do things, and we knew with each other we’d get them done.”
Perkins knows he and Campbell have developed into better individuals for society. “In ROTC, we had this one instructor, Sergeant Dorothy Lamarr,” he said. “She always taught us to ‘do better, do better, do better,'” he said. “That was always her saying. She always wanted us to be better.”
Perkins said he was excited for Campbell when heard the news that his best friend got accepted. “I felt really proud about it,” he said. “He didn’t tell me about it at first, but I was really, really proud . . . He’s a perfect fit for West Point. He’s always had that passion for being in the military since we were in ROTC together.”
Campbell will be moving hours away from his hometown to embark on a new journey. Perkins leaves him with a few encouraging words.
“Keep working. Keep God first, and it will all pay off in the end.”