Students honor military service

Makayla Mais, Staff Writer

Veteran’s Day this year held a extra special meaning for some recent graduates and current students who have joined the armed forces.

Graduates had to face challenges that came with moving around and being a long way from family.

Class of 2013 graduate, Morgan Pate-Casey, joined the Air Force after graduation.

Basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, followed by tech school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Casey describes how the Air Force made changes in her life.

“The military made me grow up fast. Maybe too fast. I got married at 18, lived on my own. Having long distance relationships with my family that I only get to see once a year, it made me cherish the friendships I had in high school because I relied on those people to keep in touch with me,” said Casey. “It’s not easy.”

Casey is currently stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida.

“My experience has been quite the journey, although it has been nothing like I expected it to be,” Casey said. “I would never regret any decision I have made. I enjoy being in the military.”

Graduate Coyan Bidwell (class of 2012) joined the Navy and reported that it was a maturing experience.

“I spent eight weeks for basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. After that I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, for exactly one year learning electrical theory and engineering, and then the second half learning nuclear physics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer,” Bidwell said. “After that I spent another year in Saratoga Springs, New York, operating a nuclear reactor for training.”

Bidwell described his future goals while in the Navy.

“I plan on qualifying my senior in-rate qualifications, then going back to New York as a nuclear prototype instructor, then getting out when I’m 26 or 27 years old if I can get a six figure job.”

Bidwell is currently stationed in Groton, Connecticut.

“I’m no longer thinking for just myself, but for others. I’m 20 and looking to get married and start a family because I know it’s where I want my life to move towards,” said Bidwell.

Graduate Seth Chiles (class of 2011)  joined the Navy.

“Training was at Pensacola, Florida, and Great Lakes, Illinois,” Chiles said.

Chiles described how the Navy changed his life.

“It changed my life dramatically. I’ve been home once in eight months, so that’s huge. Then there were everyday changes, like waking up earlier that I ever thought I would, eating habits, and workout routines. It’s a total way of life in the military, and I love it,” Chiles said.

Chiles is currently stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.

“So far it’s been challenging and rewarding, the training that I’ve gone through has prepared me mentally and physically to handle any situation I’m put in.”

Several other graduates have just completed or are completing basic training.

Graduate Ty Moran (class of 2014) joined the Marines.

Private Moran graduated Nov. 7, from United States Marine Corps boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. After a short leave, he will return to Camp Pendleton for infantry training. He successfully completed 13 weeks of intensive basic training as a recruit of platoon 3211.

Graduate Jesse Chamberlain (class of 2014) joined the Army.

Private Chamberlain will graduate from basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina on Thursday, Dec. 4.  After basic, he will go to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for advanced training. He will have spent ten weeks at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and seven weeks at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Several seniors have already made plans to join armed services after graduation.

Senior Tyler Lynch has already been sworn in to the Army.

“I will go to Fort Benning, Georgia, for basic training,” Lynch said.

Lynch described his expectations, and goals while in the Army.

“I expect to get fit, and become well disciplined,” Lynch said. “My future plans are to retire military, then work for homeland security.”

Senior Amber Gillham has joined the Army Reserves.

“I did my training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri,” Gillham said.

Gillham described her expectations, and goals while in the Army Reserves.

“I don’t really have any expectations. You never know what to expect when you join the Army, but I hope one day that I can make a difference in the world,” Gillham said. “My future plans are to go active in three years and to be deployed shortly after.”