‘Desire to serve my country’: RA senior eyes West Point

Published 12:11 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

RESERVE — It was just a few years ago when Felix James Perilloux Jr. set his sights on graduating from Riverside Academy and going to The United States Military Academy at West Point.

Since then, Perilloux has been something of an overachiever.

A career honor student and lover of all things history, Perilloux has been named  student of the year several times, is a member of the Beta Club and has scooped up a slew of academic and leadership awards. He has been student council president and president of his class.

He also is a four-year member of the local Young Marines.

In 2014 Perilloux reached what he calls a pinnacle when he was named LaPlace Rotary Club’s Stephanie “Nikki” Wilking Memorial Leadership Award recipient.

In his “spare” time, Perilloux has been a longtime volunteer at the local Veterans Home, where he enjoys meeting and listening to the stories told by the aging men and women.

He and classmate Ali Vicknair created an organization called V.E.T.S., Volunteers Embracing True Soldiers, which sponsors monthly Bingo parties at the local facility.

Every day it seems Perilloux’s dream of going to West Point is getting closer. He has the grades, the desire; he even got the required 30 ACT score as a freshman and a 31 in this, his senior year.

He just had to work on one thing, Perilloux said.

“I’m very skinny,” he said. “The Army is very big on physical fitness. I started realizing this is what I wanted to do when I was in eighth or ninth grade. I started committing to this. I was skinny then, but I wasn’t in shape. So, I committed myself to a physical fitness routine where I started doing pushups and sit-ups and a lot of body weight things. Now, maybe I can’t lift 800 pounds, but I can do 100 pushups easy.”

Perilloux has been a member of the Riverside track team and works hard to improve his skills.

This is not just a whim for Perilloux.

“When I was younger, the desire to serve my country just dominated any other desire that could have gone through my head,” Perilloux said. “But somewhere along the line I realized that I was capable of leading, so I wanted to go with that.”

Perilloux researched his various options, including the different service academies, Officer Training School and Reserve Officer Training Corps in college. There was always something about West Point, though.

“The more I looked into West Point, the tradition, the heritage, everything that went along with it, the more I fell in love with the actual institution itself,” Perilloux said. “It played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, even though no battles were fought there.”

If there were any doubts about his choice, they were erased this summer when Perilloux got to spend a week on the campus.

“I got to experience cadet life first hand,” he said. “That pretty much solidified that’s where I want to go.”

Part of the fun, he said, was seeing the remnants of the Hudson River Great Chain that the Continental Army strung across the river to stop the advancing British. He also attended academic sessions that put modern cadets into the shoes of the Revolutionary War soldiers.

“They gave us a map of West Point and we had to place garrisons around the fort,” he said. “We then compared our placements to the actual placements at the time. It was just very cool.”

He even got to meet a few other cadets from the River Parishes, including Cameran “Cami” Hymel of LaPlace and Josh Berthelot of Lutcher.

“He actually sought me out,” Perilloux said. “He saw the name Perilloux on a list and said, ‘There’s only one place in the world that name comes from.’”

The only requirement remaining for Perilloux is to get a Congressional nomination. The process should be complete in February as he sends letters out this week.

“He is extraordinary,” Riverside Academy principal Perry DiCarlo said. “He’s so determined. He knows exactly what he wants, exactly what he needs to do and how to get there. He’s been wanting to go to West Point since he came here and he knew just what he needed to do. He has been a great representative of our school and the community.”