Marching to the military

By Mac Taylor

Patriotism, a passion for politics and a passion for flying are motivating two seniors and a junior to set their sights on the national military academies or military training programs during college.

Ryan Ashley ’09 is already involved with the Civil Air Patrol. In an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program, he could train as a pilot.

For Jake Schine ’10, a sense of obligation to defend his country has led him to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, while Daniel Katz ’09 hopes to attend the Air Force Academy so he can fly fighter jets.

“I believe in a proactive military defense of America and would not feel comfortable believing that if I didn’t put my money where my mouth is and join the military,” Schine said.

Schine has wanted to join the military for as long as he can remember, and hopes to attend the Naval Academy in lieu of a more traditional college.

“I understand that it will not be a normal college experience and that it will be harder than any other school in the country, but the discipline and self-reliance taught there will aid me more than anything I could ever learn at another school,” he said.

The Naval Academy requires students to serve in active duty for two months of their summer, and freshman year “is practically a boot camp,” Schine said. He is still deciding whether he wants to join the Marine Corps or the Navy.

“Somewhere along the line I decided that since the purpose of the military is to fight, and Marines and SEALs are the most likely branches of the military that would allow me to see combat, I would want to join either of those,” he said.

Ashley’s curiosity about politics sparked his interest in joining the military, citing the leadership experience that is necessary for a political career.

After becoming an Eagle Scout in the beginning of his sophomore year, he joined the Civil Air Patrol, a cadet program run by the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force. He attends meetings every Thursday for three and a half hours, as well as staff meetings on Sundays. He spends about an hour every night doing related work.

Now having spent two and half years in CAP, he is the Commander of the Santa Monica Squadron, the highest rank for a cadet. He is responsible for overseeing the training and education of all the other cadets.

“The leadership and self-discipline I’ve gotten from it is invaluable in my day to day life,” he said.

Ashley plans to join the Air Force ROTC program in college, where he would like to become a pilot or Intelligence/Foreign Affairs officer.

“I’ve always wanted to fly planes, it’s a childhood love I’ve never lost,” he said.

Katz, like Ashley, also shares a love of planes and flying.

“To me there is nothing cooler than flying at speeds twice the speed of sound,” Katz said.

Katz’s family has been involved with the airplane industry. His grandfather owns an airplane parts manufacturer and his uncle is a pilot for United Airlines. His uncle takes him up in planes and lets him fly “just to get comfortable with it.”

Katz hopes to attend the Air Force Academy for college.

“It would give me the best chance of realizing my dream to fly fighter jets,” he said. Like Ashley, Katz’s fascination with flight has lasted as long as he can remember.

“My theory is that after college people can get rich and buy fancy cars to only go the speed limit, but in the air, the sky is literally the limit,” he said. “There are no speed limits up there and there is a sense of freedom equivalent to nothing else.”