Seniors are skipping college to head off to defend their country in the military
by Jenna Jaeger and Aiyonna White
The U.S. Armed Forces is comprised of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and National Guard. Joining the military is an opportunity many take in order to give back to their country. Some students have already made the commitment to serve their country as soon as they graduate.
People enlist in the military for several reasons. “It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life,” said senior Matt Gatton, who was recently accepted into the Marine Corps. “Most kids, when they’re five or ten, want to be an astronaut or a baseball player. I wanted to be a Marine.” He’ll be heading to Paris Island, South Carolina this summer. From there, Gatton will be going to the School of Infantry to advance from an entry-level Marine to a combat-ready Marine.
Senior Dylan DeSantis has already been accepted into the Marine Corps as well. “I had considered joining every branch, and I was looking hard into Special Forces and their special operations group until I looked at the Marine Corp and realized that an Infantryman Marine is just as impressive as an Army Ranger,” said DeSantis. “After boot camp, I will go to the School of Infantry in North Carolina. Then, hopefully I’ll get put in Jacksonville with my cousin Tyler.”
Family has been an important factor in some people’s decision to serve. “I wanted to join the Army because most of my family has been Army based. They have a lot of benefits to help me out for my future,” said senior Anthony Kellner. Kellner is already in the Army. Last summer, he completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and this summer he is going to Fort Lee, Virginia for Advanced Individual Training, or AIT. Kellner is currently stationed at Fort Meade. “After the military, I plan to get an engineering degree and hopefully change my military occupational specialty from a 92 Yankee, which is supply, to combat engineering and go back to duty,” he said.
Senior Natalie LaPlaca was accepted to the Naval Academy in Annapolis. “I wanted to do engineering, and the Naval Academy is an engineering school, so that helped me narrow it down. Then I thought, what’s a better way to give back to my country than to serve my country?” said LaPlaca.
Once you graduate from a military academy, you are obligated to serve in the military for up to eight years (five active, three reserves). However, the minimum requirement changes depending on the career field. “In the case of aviators, when I was going through the Naval Academy the obligation was six years from the time you got your wings,” said Commander and ROTC teacher Kevin Delamer. Commander Delamer was a Naval Aviator for 26 years before becoming a professor at the Naval Academy. He was inspired to join the Navy after a camping trip with his Boy Scout group.
Senior Alex Brunsworth wants to be a pilot in the Air Force. “I don’t want to do the minimum five years like some people like to do,” Brunsworth said. “Hopefully, I’ll serve longer than five years.”
Serving in the military does not necessarily mean fighting on the front lines. “The definition of frontline combat leaders has changed over the years,” Delamer said. “Today, you can go into the Cyberwarfare Field and other areas that would not have been considered traditional combat service.”
These seniors are taking advantage of their upcoming graduation and heading straight into military careers. They look forward to being involved in defending their country and building a life in the armed forces.