Seth Horsley took advanced individual training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Seth Horsley took advanced individual training as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
March 7, 2014

Seth Horsley is preparing for the academic and physical-training rigors he will encounter as a plebe at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Horsley, son of Duane and Kris Horsley of Carroll, recently decided to attend the Military Academy, when he was also set to receive an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

Horsley considered the Naval Academy, he says, because he dreamed at one time of becoming a member of a special-operations SEAL team. But his experience with the Army since he joined the National Guard in December 2011 won his decision.

"I'm already in the Army. I've already grown to love the Army, so that made it easier for the choice," says Horsley.

When he was a junior at Carroll High School, where he graduated last year, Horsley began the Guard's monthly recruitment sustainment program drills, which prepared him for basic training. He successfully completed 10-week basic training at Fort Sill, Okla., and also continued the RSP drills.

Following graduation last spring, he went on active duty from June to October, taking advanced individual training as a medic at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He spent the first seven weeks taking emergency medical technician (EMT) training and then spent the rest of the time learning how to treat specific combat injuries.

"My (Guard) recruiter was a medic, and I could see myself in the medical field, helping people and still being on the front line, being in the action," Horsley says of that choice, adding that he was struck by the "selflessness you have to have to be a medic."

"They earn a lot of respect from their peers," he notes. "They (peers) look to you when someone gets hurt."

Horsley's training included an array of critical situations, such as a bullet wound to a major artery, severe facial injury or loss of limbs.

"I grew up hunting, and I've always liked biology and anatomy," he says. "I've always been kind of wired that way where it didn't bug me. I'm more intrigued than grossed out by things like that."

Horsley, who graduated with a 3.86 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, says the Military Academy recently introduced a major in kinesiology, study of anatomy and mechanics of the human body, which also influenced his choice of West Point. He sees that major possibly opening opportunity for him in a career as a sports trainer or physical therapist.

Since returning from medical training, Horsley is taking courses in chemistry, microbiology, calculus and U.S. history at Des Moines Area Community College in Carroll.

He attends classes four days a week and works as a lifeguard three days at week at the Carroll Recreation Center. He's also going to the Rec Center four to five times a week to work out - swimming, running, lifting and cross fit.

Horsley, who competed in swimming and football at CHS, has already aced the Army physical-fitness test, exceeding the maximum 300 points. He scored 325 by doing 73 push-ups in two minutes and 93 sit-ups in two minutes, and running 2 miles in 11 minutes, 47 seconds.

He will test again soon when he goes to a monthly drill in Council Bluffs.

The physical training will prepare him for the Academy's six weeks of intense basic training, which last from June until a week before students hit the books in August.

"Academics will definitely be a challenge, but physically I should be really good," Horsley says.

He notes that Academy students must tackle a demanding course load as well as meet their military demands.

Seth is receiving insight on West Point life from his brother Levi, a 2011 CHS grad, who also was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy but had to drop out because of a lingering ankle injury. Levi attended the Academy for two years (see accompanying story) before he received an honorable medical discharge.

Seth says Levi has emphasized to him the importance of cadets' time management.

"If you don't manage your time, you can really get behind and struggle in classes," Seth says. "(Levi) said to do homework on weekends in order to get ahead for the week, so then you're not so stressed and you can get some sleep. Then you can just review rather than cram during the week. That's something I will try my best to do."

Seth credits Levi with inspiring his own interest in the Military Academy.

"I saw my brother go there, and I thought it was such an honor to be representing our nation, to be the best and brightest," Seth says. "And representing the Army is such a cool thing. Of course, there are a lot of benefits, too."

Those benefits include full-expense-paid education in a time when students are leaving college with diplomas and tens of thousands of dollars of debt.

"I have an adventurous side, as well," Horsley says. "I want to do adventurous things, travel the world and do things like jump from airplanes. That's a side of me that I find the military fills, for the most part."

Horsley, 19, says of what he expects, "It will be a challenging and rewarding four years. It will probably be the best and worst four years of my life. They say the first year is the hardest because you get few privileges. You get to leave only three times, and you don't get many freedoms."

In their four-year progression through the Academy, students are known as plebes, yearlings or yucks, cows and firsties.

Graduates received second-lieutenant rank and then have a five-year active-service commitment, when he could pick any of specialty branches, such as infantry, artillery, communications or transport.

Along with Levi, Seth's siblings include Caleb, a CHS junior; a half brother, Andrew, of Omaha, Neb., who's a graphic designer; and a half sister, Roxanne McGee, of Urbandale, who's a nurse.

His dad, Duane, is a sales representative for Bayer CropScience, a Raleigh, N.C.-based company, and his mom, Kris, is a regional manager with Primerica Financial Services.

Offering some insight into Seth and his desire to attend the Military Academy, Duane says, "He has a tremendous work ethic. He's been very disciplined throughout the application process."

Duane notes Seth just missed appointment after a previous application.

"He wasn't discouraged by that," Duane says. "He went off to the AIT (advanced individual training) through the National Guard, completed his combat-medic training there and redid the application process. We're just really proud of him for battling through that. Things didn't go the way he wanted them at first, and he just kept plugging away at his goal."

Kris relates that immediately after Seth accepted the Military Academy appointment, he gave up a sure opportunity at the Naval Academy in order to open that position for another candidate. Seth's opportunities came through nominations to the Army, Navy and Merchant Marine academies by Iowa U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin and U.S. Rep. Steve King.

Seth's parents say he is very patriotic, demonstrating love for his country, and that he was greatly inspired by older brother Levi's acceptance to West Point.

Kris said, "He really started three, four, five years ago reading books like 'Lone Survivor' by (Navy SEAL) Marcus Luttrell before anybody ever even heard of him. So he's done a lot of mental preparation and knew what he was getting into when he looked at the SEALS. To challenge himself personally really excites him. And he's so focused, he's almost unstoppable in terms of where he wants to go. It's just a joy really to watch."

The Horsley family has been very active in First Assembly of God Church in Carroll. Duane, who's also a member of the Carroll School Board, is a deacon in the church, and Seth has done a lot of volunteerism through the church, such as Convoy of Hope, which provided shoes and groceries to thousands of homeless and low-income persons in a program at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

"I've been heavily involved through church in ministry-type work," Seth says.

Kris says of Seth and Levi's achievements, "We feel extremely humble this has all happened in our family. We don't have a military legacy. It's not one of those things where the parents can take credit for nurturing and fostering any of the military part."

For his part, Seth says, "I couldn't have been here and done the things I've done without the support of my family, friends and the military. I'd also like to give glory to God, because I feel like I'm a pretty average guy, but with extraordinary ambitions and a big heart. So I feel blessed that I was allowed to have this opportunity. I know there was no way I could have done it without help from the Lord or from my family and friends."