While a majority of the members of the Class of 2017 have decided their future plans include continuing their education at a two- or four-year college, and another dozen have confirmed they will enter the workforce upon graduation, Breanna Freeland, Nathan Giller, Tyler Southard, Andrew Rainville, Thomas Ritchie, Raymond Sawyer and Aaron Van Bramer, have made what many would consider the most selfless decision of all–to serve their country by enlisting in one of the five divisions of the U.S. Military.
Joining the armed forces is a noble and life-changing decision. These students will leave the familiarity of life in Cohoes and arrive at different bases around the country to complete physically grueling basic training, followed by equally rigorous Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to become combat soldiers, pilots, sailors, police officers or any number of jobs they choose as servicemen and women within their division.
While their reasons for enlisting range from carrying on a long tradition of serving to delaying adulthood, joining the military is also a chance for them to see the world.
“I chose to enlist in the Marines because I’ve always been interested in serving and think I am physically and mentally capable,” said Nathan Giller. “I’m looking forward to doing something different than school, and, more than that, all of the experiences I’ll have, people I’ll meet, and places I’ll see.”
Giller heads to Fort Benning, Georgia for basic training in August and then moves to Fort Sill, Oklahoma after that. With two older brothers in the military, he has a good sense of what to expect. He also comes from a family of veterans.
His great grandfather, Peter Ensel, who was a graduate of Cohoes High School in 1946, entered the navy after graduation and served in World War II. Ensel recently completed an honor flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
Tyler Southard chose to enlist because most of his family joined the military and his parents are glad he joined. He’s also headed to Fort Benning for basic training.
“I’m looking forward to AIT training, and I definitely see a career in the military,” said Tyler. “I feel ready, since I’ve been training for boot camp since I enlisted.”
“We are incredibly proud of these young people for choosing to serve,” said Cohoes High School Principal Bryan Wood. “Whether it’s always been their dream or they enlisted because they weren’t sure what was next, they are about to embark on a transformative experience that will provide opportunities for them to succeed throughout their lives.”
These seven seniors join a number of Cohoes alumni who devoted their lives to serving their country and the community. From WWII veterans like Peter Ensel and Wilfred “Spike” Mailloux, who was in the Saipan attack in the Pacific, to more recent graduates like Noah McKnight, the local marine who made headlines in December 2013 for chasing down a shoplifter at Colonie Center.
“These graduates are such outstanding role models, putting their country first at a time when there is so much uncertainty in the world,” said Superintendent Jennifer Spring, Ed.D. “I’m so grateful for their selflessness and devotion to promoting the ideals of democracy.”