Marie Nabor Sobrepena, possibly the first Secaucus woman to graduate from West
Point, was honored by the mayor and Town Council last month for her
our knowledge, she is the first woman from Secaucus to graduate West Point,”
said Mayor Dennis Elwell during a brief ceremony in early July. “We researched
our records and couldn’t come up with another woman who had attended West Point
graduated from West Point Military Academy on June 1. A graduate of Secaucus
High School in 1995, she attended the Norwich Military Academy in Vermont,
graduating from there in 1998. With the help of U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli,
she entered West Point.
always wanted to fly,” she said during a brief interview. “I couldn’t see
myself doing anything else.”
was apparently inspired by Glen Ridge actor Tom Cruise’s jet fighter part in
the movie Top Gun.
Dennis Elwell, who spoke at the ceremony, said he was surprised by Sobrepena.
as I knew she had graduated West Point, I noticed she also had the [insignia]
on her collar,” he said. “I did not know she had also gone through Airborne
had served in the 82nd Airborne unit while serving in the U.S. Army during the
took additional courage and strength to get through the United States Airborne
school,” he said.
was born in Philippines, and moved to Secaucus in 1983. She said her mother was
an inspiration to her, succeeding in the business world as well as struggling
against significant illness. Her mother saw her enter West Point, but died
before Sobrepena graduated.
talked a little about her experiences in the military.
point was tough for me, but it wasn’t impossible,” she said. “If you put your
mind towards any goal, you can achieve them.”
majored in comparative politics and civil engineering. Yes, she admits that
airborne training was a bit unnerving.
you see the clouds you do get a little intimidated,” she said. “With all the
combat equipment, you add about 150 pounds to what you already weigh. You’re at
the door and the jumpmaster is looking at you. You have to get ready to jump
from about 1,250 feet.”
the jumpmaster told her to go, she said “Okay.”
recalled the first time she had to jump from the airplane.
person behind me got nervous and accidentally opened reserve,” she said, noting
that if the parachute hit someone, a person could “get thrown” and die. “I was
kicked out by the jump master.”
said she remember thinking: ‘That’s all right. That’s what I was trained to
do.’ I survived.”
said faith plays a big part in the ability to do this, and trusting that she
had learned what she needed to survive it.
your parachute doesn’t open, you know to open your reserve,” she said. “You
have to have faith in the people that lead you, that they know what they’re
From here, Sobrepena said she will attend flight school and will either fly Apache or Black Hawk helicopters. She will likely serve overseas, perhaps, she said, the Middle East