WEST POINT, NY (WCBS 880) – For one graduating West Point cadet from Brooklyn, defending his nation has a personal connection.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell At West Point

Mike Chiaia was in the 7th grade when he watched the World Trade Center collapse. His father worked there.

Chiaia describes that day: “Not knowing where my dad was and then seeing him come home later in the day just covered in all the dust and the dirt.”

He’d always wanted to go to West Point.

“I was that 10-year-old always watching History Channel, playing with Army guys, but being really anal at how I set them up,” he says.

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But what happened on 9/11 seemed to seal the deal.

“A lot of that stuck with me and I just want to make sure that something like that never again happens to the U.S.,” he tells WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

He admits this is dangerous, but he feels this is what he was meant to do.

“We feel that security to the nation and what our soldiers are fighting for now, right now, is so much greater than ourselves,” he says.

Following his graduation, he’s heading to flight school.

“You spend your West Point time doing a lot things on the ground, a lot of the infantry tactics. So, I thought it would be really cool to be the guy in the air,” he says.

Chiaia attended Xavier High School in Manhattan.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen will be the graduation speaker at West Point’s commencement on May 21.

More than 1,000 cadets are expected to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy and be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Mullen, a Navy admiral, has served as the chairman since 2007. He’s scheduled to retire at the end of September.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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