As West Point continues to produce multiple research projects to advance the Army warfighter, cadets at the U.S. Military Academy are constantly at work reaching technological breakthroughs that make those advancements possible. Class of 2021 Cadet Thomas Aldhizer is one of many cadets using his passion for physics to develop contingency measures to potentially safeguard the lives of Soldiers on the battlefield. Aldhizer has spent most of his tenure at West Point defining theories related to lessening the variability of swinging when a casualty is being hoisted up into a Medevac helicopter. This year, the fruits of his labor finally came with the Thomas Young Award for outstanding research in physics.
Despite winning the award, the struggle to achieve this level of success was riddled with difficult obstacles. Those obstacles reminded him of simpler times in Pfafftown — a small community within the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he cultivated his passion for physics at Ronald Wilson Reagan High School. The community he lived in really valued and cherished people and the citizens of Pfafftown nurtured his desire to one day serve and give back to the people, Aldhizer added.
“I didn’t really want to go to college and make money, I wanted to go to college and be able to eventually do something to give back to Pfafftown," Aldhizer said. "So, I did JROTC in high school and I asked my mentors ‘where’s the best place I could go.’ They pointed toward a lot of places like Texas Tech or Virginia Tech, like a lot of good colleges, but not service academies.”
It wasn’t until his sophomore year in high school when his friend and colleague, 2nd Lt. Ean McCool, who was a senior at the time, informed Aldhizer of the opportunity that awaited him at West Point. McCool graduated from high school and attended West Point and that encouraged Aldhizer to do the same.
“I was like, ‘wow, people from Pfafftown can go to West Point,’ and that was kind of where I started looking into the academy and saying, ‘OK, how did my buddy get into West Point — what can I do, what should I do to get along that route,’” Aldhizer said of applying to West Point. Read more.