Hoorah, Oswego! As most students pack up their bags and head off to college, there are certain ones who are packing up everything they own and following their ambitions to protect our country. Among the most stone-cold, ambitious students at Oswego High School is a group which possesses a certain passion for aiming to make the United States a better place, doing so by enlisting in the U.S. military. They aren’t just packing up their bags for themselves; they are doing it for their peers, too.
“This is what I want to do. I’m pretty confident,” senior Kyle Kelty says. After graduation, Kelty will ship out to bootcamp on June 22.
Kelty is very certain about his decision, which is the kind of attitude needed when entering such a difficult job. Although challenging, there were some major factors that influenced these students in making their decisions.
“I wanted to serve [the country] because I saw my brother do it. My grandpa did it as well,” Kelty says. “When my brother enlisted for the Army in college, that pretty much told me—this is what I want to do.”
Deciding to enlist in the first place is not the last decision these students have to make. There is also the question of which job to take and which branch to serve in. Kelty, for example, chose infantry as his job in the Marine Corps, meaning he will be one who marches on foot.
“[Infantry] is what I chose for my job, so I can go and do scout sniping after that,” Kelty stated.
He wouldn’t necessarily be on the battlegrounds, but more at a far, elevated distance using a sniper for long, accurate shots.
Not everyone is going to choose the same branch, given the variety in the military. For example, senior Jaiden Speer plans to enlist in the Army. He, too, was inspired by family.
“My grandparents were a part of the Army, and I’ve heard a lot of good things from them,” Speer explains.
Being born into a military family is a great influence as is, and after hearing the experiences of his family, Speer is even more determined to serve our country. After his grandparents’ stories, he understands the pride that is obtained throughout serving in the military. Knowing that his ancestors put their lives on the line for the same reasons most likely motivates him to keep on going. Speer’s family isn’t the only thing steering his choice, either—other resources have served as factors in his decision as well.
Speer said he was also inspired by Military Topics, an elective class here at OHS.
Naturally, taking on a high-stakes job is going to come with its anxieties, no matter how certain someone is about their decision.
“I’m more nervous, just because of all the things I’ve heard. From what my friends have told me, there’s no way to expect what’s exactly going to happen,” Speer says. “You just have to be ready to follow orders.”
The emotions aren’t going to stop these young individuals from chasing their dreams, though. It’s not like these students are choosing to serve our country just to make themselves and others proud—some may even have deeper, more specific reasons as to why they want to fight for our country.
“Growing up, it has always been in the news: terrorism. I just figured if I could make a difference, save some lives—I mean, if I die, it’d be for a noble cause,” Speer explains. “I just want my life to mean something and not have it be wasted.”
If one’s reasoning for serving lies upon a strong, personal opinion like Speer, it may just be destiny. Clearly, enlisting is something that he may not be able to get off his mind, because of the fact that he is so inspired and engaged in this profession. He didn’t need any more reasoning to enlist into the military—Speer knew exactly what he wanted.
Going to the military has its perks as well. Some may be enlisting simply because the benefits received would help them out tremendously, such as a free tuition for college, free healthcare, and a pension after you retire.
“Honestly, it was a way to pay for college at first, and then I started taking Military Topics and began learning about everything,” Speer states.
One doesn’t even need to serve as an infantryman to obtain these benefits, either—all jobs of the military offer these same benefits. Not to mention, the experience itself is incredible and can benefit someone tremendously in getting a job after the military. That being said, Speer made it very clear he was more interested in his desire to serve.
“It just was intriguing to me,” Speer further explains.
This particular job itself, as we know, is not an easy task. Not only is the job a challenge for these OHS seniors, but they also have to fight the urge of wanting to spend time with their loved ones.
“I won’t be able to see Finley, my 2-year-old sister, grow up—which is a bit sad,” Speer notes.
These are the kinds of risks and sacrifices these students are going to have to take in order to help make their dreams become reality. Yet, they are still able to set all feeling aside and focus on what’s important for them and their future. Some may see it as their only option, while others see it as a path that will create so many more opportunities for them.
“[Enlisting] is like a new beginning, a new chance,” Speer says. “I’m super excited.”
Once again, not all students are going into the same branch of military. Senior Rhyan Reymar put the concept of family into perspective.
“I chose the Navy—it’s kind of like a family thing,” Reymar shared. “I have like, three or four members of my family that are in the Navy, which is part of the reason I’m sticking to it.”
Again, Reymar makes it very clear that their families perspective really does play a big role in making their decision on what branch to enlist into, especially if you have a number of family members currently serving for that branch. Eventually, these individuals will end up going with what their heart tells them.
As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. When you plan on choosing such a job as your career choice, preparation is key. If you want to go into battle and fight for what’s right, you’re going to have to obtain the physical attributes that go along with it, so you are as prepared for as many situations as possible.
“I’m bettering myself—I work out every day, run in the mornings, and go to training with my recruiter,” Reymar reveals.
Preparation is key—because when regarding this topic, the possibilities are endless. You may think that these students won’t officially be enlisted until a while down the road, but these seniors will take their first steps on an official military base before you know it. Obviously, it varies for each and every one of them. That doesn’t change the fact that it will most likely happen before the year ends, since most will head out to boot camp by fall 2019.
Like everyone else, Reymar will be sent off to boot camp soon to continue his preparation.
“I leave boot camp, I think… June 13 it is,” Reymar says.
Only this time, it is under the authority and observation of the Recruit Division Commanders, who most of us know as the drill instructors.
Before being enlisted into the military each individual must qualify completely. Corpsman and others involved do a very strict background and health check, which helps them figure out if they are qualified for the position or not.
“They medically screen you. So you do a drug test, your eyes, hearing. They also give you a questionnaire, and then they take your blood,” Reymar stated.
The information they get out of them is evaluated very precisely, because if you do not qualify 100%, you are packing your bags and heading right back home. Of course, these high school seniors know exactly what it takes to live such a lifestyle.
“After boot camp, I have one day in between a 50-mile radius of the base that I can communicate to family,” Reymar noted.
That can’t be easy either. Just imagine being 18 or 19 years old and already having to say your goodbyes to your family for the next four or so years. It could be a very hard experience for some of these students, but even the deepest of emotions is not stopping these seniors from doing such a deed for their country.
For some, they may view the military as a vicious, rough road to go down. Luckily, these seniors aren’t focused on that. For them, this is what they’ve always dreamt of doing.
“I just thought [enlisting] was the right thing to do. I’ve always wanted to do it since I was like 5 years old,” Reymar says.
The bravery and courage of these students is outstanding. A great amount of respect is earned after properly following orders and serving for our country. It’s a sense of great pride, which these young students, along with their families will be carrying with them for the rest of their lives.
Disclaimer: Rhyan Reymar is a staff reporter for 42Fifty. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.