A Cadet’s home away from home

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.- Living in close quarters and sharing basic essentials with a large group of people at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) is nothing new to Cadet Parker Thompson, who is one of 18 children.

Thompson is the 9th child and the youngest of his parent’s four biological children. He has 14 adopted brothers and sisters, four being from America and 10 from Brazil.

Cadet Parker Thompson of Wheaton College is a long way from home, but finds the Army family to be similar to his life back home. He graduates from the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash on Monday, July 9th. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

“Have you ever seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen? It’s not at all like that,” joked Thompson, explaining that his siblings were rather well behaved, “It’s not easy but there is a lot of joy that comes with it too.”

Thompson has lived in the same old farmhouse his whole life, in the 2,000-person town of Tremont, Ill.

“We have a garden and the kids play outside a lot. I grew up having a playmate at all times. I was never bored,” said Thompson, who plans on graduating from Wheaton College next fall, commissioning and then going to medical school.

Being two days and a wake-up away from graduating from Warrior Forge, Thompson said he has greatly valued his time at LDAC.

“I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by. It seems like just yesterday we were here getting our blood drawn for the first time and now we are here getting it drawn again,” said Thompson, during his last blood drawing.

“LDAC has taught me a lot about trust. Trust in your fellow Cadets, trust in God, trust in cadre, trust in your training and trust in your own intuition and your guts,” said Thompson.

Thompson said that his favorite part of LDAC was connecting with his squad, while the hardest part was being away from his comrades at home.

“The hardest part was probably just being away from home for this long. I have an Army medical internship here that starts right when I graduate, so today is actually the halfway point of my absence from home,” said Thompson, who will be away from home for a total of 51 days.

Deep down Thompson said he always knew he wanted to be in the service, having both grandfathers and a brother in the military.

“My whole family is really supportive of me and have come alongside me in my desire to be an officer in the United States Army,” said Thompson.

Even though Thompson still has 17 siblings to man the home front, he thought telling his mom he was joining would break her heart.

“When I told my mom, I thought I was going to get the reaction of ‘No, never go, don’t do that’, but when I told her she said ‘I know. You will be perfect at that. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard for me, it will be horrible, but I support you,’” Thompson said.

Thompson said that his parents adopted because “they felt in their hearts it was their calling in life” and Thompson is confident that he found his own calling in the U.S. Army.

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