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Given to Fly

April 7, 2007

Given to Fly: Former TH North standout Dason thrives at West Point

TERRE HAUTE — Nick Dason’s schedule at West Point is as rigorous as he expected … and he’s loving every minute.

Before breakfast each day at 6:45 a.m., Dason joins his triathlon teammates — triathlon is a club sport at the U.S. Military Academy — for practice at 5:30 a.m.

Then after a full slate of classes — 18 credit hours, the least he’s taken in four years — the team convenes for more practice at 4 p.m. and goes until 6:30. After a less formal dinner, Dason works to maintain his dean’s list studying habits. His major is American politics and Dason has a minor in systems engineering.

The Terre Haute North High School alumnus welcomes the demanding routine when he compares it to the 10 months he spent in one of the most volatile cities in Iraq.

Last year, Dason met up with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky., in Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province.

On Friday, 27 people died in Ramadi when a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with TNT and chlorine gas into a police check point.

Dason contributed to more than 150 combat missions as a machine gunner with the infantry.

“We were really fighting the fight,” Dason said. “It’s a very volatile region. It’s tough. We lost some good guys and had a lot of guys get hurt.”

It was quite a learning experience, to say the least.

“We were trying to make the city more secure. It’s a totally different world. You realize how great America is,” Dason said.

“Some people get down when they’re here [at West Point] because everything that’s required of you is so high stress. The fact I’m back at school now, getting ready to graduate from a premier institution … It could always be worse. I could be in Iraq.”

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