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Answering a calling; Boyd student born on 9-11 joins National Guard

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 26, 2018
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Joining Up

JOINING UP – Dalton Westray, who was born Sept. 11, 2001, joined the Texas National Guard earlier this month. He took his oath in Amarillo Oct. 3, a few weeks after he turned 17. Submitted photo

When giving his date of birth, Dalton Westray notices a familiar pause.

It occurred again earlier this month when the 17-year-old Boyd junior signed his papers and readied to take his oath to join the National Guard.

“They were like what’s your birthday? I said 9-11-01 and you see the faces that they had,” Westray said.

“It’s a common occurrence. Oh, you were born on 9-11. Oh, you want to join the military. It’s a pretty common thing.”

Born just more than two hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City, Westray has always taken pride in his birthday and his country. He can usually be found around campus decked out in patriotic garb.

“You can ask anyone, I’ve always been very patriotic,” Westray said. “I usually wear American flag socks or have America on my shirt. I’m a very patriotic person. I think there’s part of it to do with when I was born.

“9-11 was a very patriotic day for our country because it was a calling to so many people, ‘Hey, it’s time to step up and do what I need for my country.’ And I feel like I’m also answering that call at this point. It took me a little bit, but I’m getting there.”

Along with a sense of duty, Westray has also been driven to serve others. It’s another reason he chose to join the National Guard. He hopes to become a combat medic and then pursue a career as an emergency physician.

“My official goal is to eventually get into emergency medicine,” Westray said.

“I’d like to specialize in emergency medicine and triage. I’ve really always been fascinated with the way triage is done and having to do triage itself.”

He is already doing an internship at Wise Health System in Decatur through Boyd High School’s health science program.

Westray’s calling to serve others is not a surprise to his parents David and Tracie. The elder Westray has always tried to instill in his son how special his birthday is.

“This is something that has been Dalton’s plan since he was 8 or 9, since I convinced him his birthday was special,” David Westray said. “He’s meant to make this birthday mean something.

“His bedroom is decorated in patriotic posters and flags. There’s no way to confuse what his intentions are.”

Westray started leaning toward joining the military around his 10th birthday. He joined the Navy Sea Cadets five years ago.

“It’s a group that sends you around to different places around the United States and gives you aspects of what military life is like at different jobs,” Westray said.

Over the summer after receiving some combat medical training, he changed his initial plans from seeking a spot in the Naval Academy to become an officer and later a doctor to wanting to be a combat medic.

James McDonald, the Boyd ISD Director of College and Career Readiness and leader of the Boyd High School military club, has noticed Westray’s drive throughout high school.

“He started talking to me about what he needed to do last year as a sophomore,” McDonald said. “When I started to ask him questions, I got down to his reason why. From there talking with him and his dad, we made some proposals that better fits his whole purpose for doing all this work.”

With his grades and aptitude, McDonald directed Westray to pursue the National Guard over active duty.

“He’s a real smart kid, so college was where really his next step was going to be,” McDonald said. “He just didn’t realize that was a possibility and still being able to serve his country.”

Westray showed his intelligence scoring an 85 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). McDonald said a score that high is “the golden ticket to do any job that you want in any branch.”

“To score an 85 as a junior is pretty impressive,” McDonald said. “To become a medic requires one of the higher ASVAB scores. It’s a great opportunity for him because he wants to go to med school and it will allow him to go. That sets ups school because he’s already learning more of the triage type behavior as a medic.”

McDonald indicated there’s a strong likelihood that his schooling will be paid for by the guard because of the need for physician assistants, medics and doctors.

“He’s got a tremendous opportunity in front of him,” McDonald said.

His parents supported his decision to join the military, but they admit there are concerns.

“We’ve never stood in his way. His mother and I stand by and help open doors for him,” David Westray said.

“We’ve all talked about some concerns. But what we have to look at is this is God’s plan. It’s what he believe he’s telling him to do.”

Joining the National Guard just two weeks after he turned 17, his father points out that Westray is likely one of the first people born on Sept. 11, 2001, to enlist.

“It’s not likely many beat him,” he said.

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