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Thursday, August 16, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cadet from Kingston is 1st captain at West Point

KINGSTON, Kitsap County — A 21-year-old man from Kingston has been selected as first captain at the U.S. Military Academy, the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point.

Jason Crabtree will lead West Point's 4,480 aspiring Army officers in New York this school year.

Former first captains include such famous names as Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, John J. Pershing and William Westmoreland.

The military academy announced Crabtree's selection this week. The position, also called brigade commander, is similar to student body president at a university.

"It's an honor to be even associated with the really elite group of officers who have held this position before me, and I'm humbled by that opportunity," Crabtree told the Kitsap Sun in a telephone interview from New York.

The son of Glen and Colleen Crabtree graduated in 2004 from West Sound Academy in Suquamish, where he was nearly a 4.0 student. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., nominated him.

As first captain, Crabtree is responsible for the cadets' overall performance, directs training, and acts as a liaison between the cadets and the administration.

"I'm responsible for everything that occurs or fails to occur among the Corps of Cadets," he said.

Crabtree is majoring in civil engineering and will graduate in May with a commission as a second lieutenant.

He's the second of four children. Sister Shannon, 22, graduated from Carroll College in Montana and is beginning veterinary school at Washington State University. Peter, 18, will be a senior at West Sound Academy and Timmy, 11, is a sixth-grader.

Crabtree emerged as first captain in a long selection process. He served as a regimental commander for basic training this summer, overseeing 1,558 upperclassmen and new cadets.

"You just continue to work hard at what you believe is right and do it all the time and people will recognize when you do things correctly and you really care," he said.

Crabtree's grandmother is a cousin of former astronaut Richard F. Gordon, and he's interested in a career in space.

This summer, he traveled to Rice University in Houston to work with graduate students on computerized modeling of a parachute for a NASA Orion crew exploration vehicle. He also attended a lunar engineering conference at Rutgers in New Jersey.

"It's certainly a goal of mine to be able to work in space, either after or during my military career," he said.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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