Veteran alumni discuss paths to military careers


Will Sherwood/Chronicle

Lieutenant Earle LeMasters ’04 and Captain Colin Weidmann ’08 answer Reverend Anne Gardner’s question about what an average day looks like for a member of the U.S. military. Both said the day-to-day experience is more mundane than most people think.

Will Sherwood

In honor of Veterans Day, the school hosted two alumni to share their military experiences. Reverend Anne Gardner interviewed Captain Colin Weidmann ’08 and Lieutenant Earle LeMasters ’04 in Taper Gymnasium on Thursday. 

LeMasters, who attended Northwestern University before joining the U.S. Navy as a nuclear engineer, said he hopes Americans could take the time to discuss military service on Veterans Day.

“More than anything else, what [veterans] love to do is just talk about what we did and explain it to you,” LeMasters said. “What I would say for a day like today is go find out more about what somebody did and understand a little bit more [about their service].”

Reverend Anne Gardner said she enjoyed planning the event. 

“It was a fortunate coincidence that this holiday fell on a day that corresponded with a Community [Flex] Time gathering,” Gardner said in an email. “I am both grateful and honored to have been part of this week’s programming. And I am humbled to have been the voice that recognized members of our own community [Dean Department Head and Performing Arts Teacher Kate Benson, Upper School History Teacher Sandra Brasda], Performing Arts Designer Alex Kolmanovsky and Upper School Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado] who have served our country with honor.”

Maddie Morrison ’22 said the event successfully informed students of career opportunities.

“I enjoyed hearing about the ways [the school] prepared alumni for their future in the military and how habits from high school shaped the speakers’ experiences in the military,” Morrison said. “Learning about students who chose a less traditional path after high school really broadened my perspective significantly.”

Community Council member Lily Saada ’22 said she appreciated hearing veteran stories.

“I think the idea of connecting Veterans Day to the community by hearing from alumni was a smart way to get people engaged,” Saada said. “The people around me seemed to be listening to the assembly and interested in it but were a bit surprised by some things that were said.”

Jesse Goldman ’23 said he felt his peers did not behave themselves well while they watched the event.

“Both these veterans preached hard work and dedication through their compelling words,” Goldman said. “That’s why it was such an extreme disappointment seeing how students [behaved]. People were rudely talking, and sometimes even making fun of the veterans, while they were speaking. These two men sacrificed years of their lives just so that we can feel safe.”

Kara Yoon ’23 said the event did not present a balanced view of veterans’ experiences.

“It was interesting to hear their stories, but coming back from fighting, I know there are a lot of homelessness and mental health [issues],” Yoon said. “[The school] gave us the very one-sided story of, ‘You fight, you come back and everything’s great.’”