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Four make it to top US academies

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KUALA LUMPUR: It was a rare honour as four Malaysian cadets beat thousands of applicants worldwide for the go-ahead to “march” into prestigious military academies in the United States.

National Defence University of Malaysia graduates Muhammad Salihin Mohd Sabri and M. Sayniish Pillay, both aged 19, and Malaysian Royal Military College (RMC) graduates Ahmad Yusuf Ahmad Azani, 18, and Wan Kamal Fitri Wan Kamal Baharein, 19, have been hailed by the US Embassy for their achievement.

“Over the past 20 years, only 23 Malaysian cadets have been accepted into US military academies.

“The four have an excellent opportunity to excel in their careers,” US Embassy charge d’affaires Edgard Kagan said at a special event in honour of the four at the embassy here yesterday.

For Muhammad Salihin and Ahmad Yusuf, their success also upholds a family military tradition.

Muhammad Salihin, who is headed for the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, said he wanted to emulate his uncle, former RMAF chief Lt-Jen Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Abdul Aziz.

“He has been a role model and inspiration to me. I want to become a fighter pilot,” he said after receiving his letter of acceptance.

For Ahmad Yusuf, getting accepted into the US Naval Academy in Maryland means following in the footsteps of his father, an RMC alumni, and grandfather.

“My grandfather was with the Malay Regiment and was awarded the Pingat Gagah Berani for fighting the communists in Karak-Bentong in 1974,” said the Klang lad.

Wan Kamal Fitri, 19, who is headed for the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, said he could not be prouder.

“This will be the first time I will be spending Hari Raya away from the family. I hope my mother will be able to visit me at least once when I am there,” he said.

Sayniish, 19, pledged to take the Malaysia Boleh spirit with him to West Point. “I am so excited to go,” he added.

Kagan said there were between 15,000 and 18,000 applications to the academies each year, with only about 10% accepted after scrutiny.

He said the US was committed to fostering closer relations with Malaysia and the acceptance of the four cadets would help in the people-to-people aspect of ties.

Also present at the event was RMAF assistant chief of staff (Defence Planning) Mej-Jen Muham­mad Salleh Osman.–THE STAR ONLINE

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