May 24, 2019

Five Madison graduates prepare for military service - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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Five Madison graduates prepare for military service

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019 3:11 pm

Among the seniors who will graduate from Madison High School this spring are five teenagers who have signed up for military service and will go off to basic training this summer.

In the group, Raven WallowingBull has committed her next four years exclusively to the United States Army; Nicholas Comes plans to serve with the South Dakota Air National Guard; and Randy Ebdrup, Blaine Hare and Nolan Johnson have signed up with the S.D. Army National Guard. The four National Guard recruits have commitments of six years each.

The five teenagers and their classmates are scheduled to complete their high school careers on May 19, when they attend MHS commencement that starts at 2 p.m. in the high school gym.

The teens had a list of reasons for enlisting in military service, including financial assistance for college or technical-school educations, personal growth and willingness to serve the United States. Their new careers will start with nine weeks of basic training in places like Fort Jackson, S.C.; San Antonio, Texas; and Fort Benning, Ga.

During her military service, WallowingBull has selected one of the more interesting occupational specialties that the U.S. Army offers. She plans to join the Army's "navy," which is more formally known as the Army watercraft community.

The U.S. Army operated about 300 water vessels, in active and reserve service, during 2018 that ranged from 75-foot tugboats to 315-foot logistic support vessels. About 2,000 soldiers man the vessels and the Army's fleet operates on a budget of $120 million annually.

The Army's watercraft are intended to supply material and vehicles to military personnel by offloading onto beaches or in ports with degraded facilities. The vessels can also provide support to ashore facilities.

WallowingBull initially considered joining the U.S. Navy, but her interest grew with enlisting in the Army when she learned that the service also operated a fleet of watercraft.

Although WallowingBull's personal experience with watercraft is limited, she expects that the Army will provide the training and education needed so that she can captain one of the service's vessels in the future.

After his basic training, Comes plans to study aerospace ground equipment as his military occupational specialty, also referred to as MOS. Comes will have his responsibilities directed toward the maintenance and repair of ground-support equipment for aircraft.

After his advanced training, Comes said he wanted to have options of either serving full-time in the Air National Guard or enrolling in college and joining an ROTC program. Comes added that he was interested in obtaining financial help with gaining a post-secondary education, and he thought the National Guard was "...a good first step, serving my country."

Hare selected chemical equipment maintenance and repair as his occupational specialty when he enlisted in the Army National Guard, which will involve working with equipment such as electrical generators and water-purification equipment. After finishing his National Guard training, Hare is considering enrolling at South Dakota State University to study mechanical engineering.

According to Hare, his uncle Rod Hare's service in the National Guard helped with his decision to enlist. He said his uncle served more than 20 years with the Guard. Hare also liked many guardsmen whom he has met.

Johnson said his father, Travis Johnson, a computer instructor at Madison Middle School, currently serves in the Army Reserves. Johnson considers National Guard service as a good initial move into adulthood after graduating from high school.

"I wanted to do it to serve and to have something that pushes me and motivates me," Johnson said.

Johnson plans to learn masonry and carpentry skills as his occupational specialty in the Guard. He said his basic training is scheduled in Fort Benning, Ga., and the advanced training will take him to Gulfport, Miss. Johnson expects that the MOS training will also benefit him professionally in civilian life.

Johnson anticipates using the Guard's education benefits to gain a post-secondary education. He wants to enroll at Mitchell Technical Institute to take the tech school's heating, ventilation and air-conditioning course.

Ebdrup decided that he wanted to work in the area of helicopter maintenance and repair while serving in the S.D. Army National Guard, specifically maintaining Black Hawk helicopters. Similar to the other Army National Guard enlistees, Ebdrup will perform his basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. His advance training is scheduled at Fort Lee, Va.

Ebdrup expects that his training in aircraft maintenance will assist him in civilian life, but he also plans to enroll in the automobile technician course available at Western Dakota Technical Institute. Ebdrup said his brother, who previously served in the National Guard and currently serves in the U.S. Army, had explained to him what education benefits were available to Guard members.

Along with the opportunities for training and education, Ebdrup said he wanted "...to serve my country."

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