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Enlisted National Guard member, black belt embarks on Army route

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U.S. Army Photo by Heather Cortright

When other Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets at the Leader Development and Assessment Course hear that 5th Reg.  Cadet Morgan Nester from Telford, Pa. is a third degree black belt, they instantly respect him. When they learn that he is not only advanced in tae kwon do, but enlisted in the National Guard and striving to become a commissioned officer in the Army, those people are amazed at their fellow Cadet.

The business administration student from Valley Forge Military Academy & College started tae kwon do at four years old and reached black belt status five years later. After 14 intense years of martial arts and a year of being an instructor, Nester found himself in his senior year of high school. At that point, he enlisted in the National Guard and retired from tae kwon do to prepare for basic combat training.

“The Guard offers a lot of benefits for education, and I have a family history of service, so I felt that it would be nice to keep that going,” said Nester. “My dad is the only one with the name Nester that hasn’t been in the military. The most recent one, my grandfather, served in World War II and he was the tail end gunner on the B 24 Liberator. He was in the Air Corps before the Air Force actually existed.”

Now that Nester is on the path to commissioning as an Army officer, his time with the Guard is paying off. Basic combat training prepared Nester for the training exercises at LDAC, as many of them were the same.

“Some of the stuff that we got at basic training we did here,” said Nester. “[LDAC] was more focused on being able to lead a group, and I think I learned a lot about how to motivate and coordinate since I’ve been here.”

Nester also attributes his success at training this summer to his martial arts background, believing that it taught him to have better focus and gave him the necessary skills to excel at the Army’s largest intra-continental training program.

“Now I’m able to organize thoughts, I’m able to prepare myself whether it’s mentally or with the materials necessary, and it’s usually pretty smooth,” said Nester. “For the physical side of it, I guess [tae kwon do] kept me in pretty good shape because the Army physical fitness test was not an issue and neither were the obstacle courses.”

Nester’s time at LDAC has set him on the right track to pursuing the life-long military career he is seeking. If his fourteen years of tae kwon do has taught him anything, it’s that sticking with a passion for a long time pays off.

“The longer you stick with something, the more rewarding it becomes,” said Nester. “I’m really just trying to set myself up for the rest of my life. Hopefully if I’m lucky enough to have a family, they can benefit from it too.”

Story By: Alecia Pasdera

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