Upper row, from left: Wayne High School Principal Jeff Berk, Justin Kissee (Army), Abhi Lekhi (Army), Philip Waters (Army), Kelsey Sherlock (Army National Guard), Caleb Pequignot (Air Force). Lower row from left: Superintendent Susan Gunnell, Demetrius McFadden (Army), Zoe Watkins (Army), Isaac Burgess (Marines), Brianna Gallagher (Army), Conner Teague (Navy), John Boyles (Air Force), Lt. Col. Roger Redwood.

Wayne sends baker’s dozen of graduates to the military

Thirteen Wayne High School seniors were honored at a Military Signing Day last month, becoming the latest group of Huber Heights students to commit to serving their country after high school.

Army Staff Sgt. Michael Woodard was the guest speaker for the event, and students gave their ceremonial oath of allegiance to dutifully serve in the Armed Forces.

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Six students are headed to the Army — Brianna Gallagher, Justin Kissee, Abhi Lekhi, Demetrius McFadden, Philip Waters and Zoe Watkins. Isaac Burgess will join the Marines, and Kelsey Sherlock is joining the National Guard. Three Wayne graduates are headed to the Navy — Jeremy Barnett, Cheyenne Sturgill and April Zarate — while John Boyles and Caleb Pequignot are Air Force-bound.

Huber Heights school officials said the students committing to the military were in a slew of extracurricular activities, from JROTC and drill team to drama club, Warriorettes, chess club, marching band and multiple sports teams.

A recent Army Times story said that only about 1 percent of Americans serve in the military. Of the 33.4 million target population by age, only 9.7 million are qualified to join given standards for fitness, weight, medical issues, misconduct, substance use and mental health, according to Army recruiting statistics.

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For the Wayne High School grads, joining the armed forces will be an adjustment right out of high school, and several enlistees said they’re not looking forward to being away from their loved ones. Others said facing the rigors of basic training or rough weather are things they’re not excited about.

But the students cited numerous positives in serving their country. Multiple students said they’re most looking forward to traveling and seeing the world. Others are looking forward to different parts of their military education and training like nuclear schooling and Advanced Individual Training.

Ultimately, the military commits see enlisting as a stepping stone to reaching their long-term goals. Some may be able to use GI bill programs to cover the costs of a college education or vocational training.

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“After the Army, I plan on earning my master’s degree and becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner,” said Brianna Gallagher.

For some, the military is just the first step in their master plan.

“I would like to switch to active duty after my six years of reserves and serve in the Special Forces,” said Army enlistee Demetrius McFadden. “After my time doing that, when I turn 38 I plan to run for president!”

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