Serving their country

Teens enthusiastic to join Navy, Marines

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Following their high school graduation this spring, two young men are taking the step into uniform to complete the honor of serving their country.

Mitch Perry, 18, of Evart, and Tyler Edwards, 18, of Marion, are saying goodbye to friends and family and following their hearts by enlisting into the United States military.

Perry, a student at Northern Michigan Christian School in McBain, said the Navy seemed like a good fit after he researched the United States Naval Academy following a talk with his father.

"I always have been interested in the military," he said. "My grandpa served in World War II and I thought that was pretty cool."

Perry was one of 1,200 accepted into the academy of the 20,000 applications it receives each year. He began the extensive process in August, completing a preliminary application of academic and physical examination, receiving a nomination from a member of Congress or Senate and taking part in an interview with a Naval officer. He was officially accepted a couple of weeks ago.

"It was pretty awesome," Perry said. "I was surprised I got in."

Starting July 1, he will be enrolled in the Maryland-based academy for four years and continue on for five years of service.

"I think about it every day," Perry added. "I'm looking forward to meeting new people and gaining new experiences. I think it'll be a huge challenge and I think it'll give me an opportunity to grow."

Although he has no specific goal to accomplish in mind now, he simply wants to serve his country and is happy to be placed wherever the Navy sees fit. However, Perry said he enjoys math and has a technical mind, uses systematic thinking and is a methodical person, so he may gravitate toward an engineering position.

With the support of his friends and family, Perry is doing his best to shake some trepidation.

"I'm nervous," he added. "I've lived in Evart for 15 years. It's where I'm comfortable and I've never been pushed out of my comfort zone. But I'm hopeful."

Edwards also is looking ahead, seizing the opportunity of what the U.S. Marine Corps can offer.

"I thought I'd get a better education by joining," he said. "I want to be part of the Marine infantry, because someday I'd like to become involved with infantry in the Department of Natural Resources."

Following academic and physical testing in Lansing, Edwards was sworn in on Jan. 31.

"Being a Marine takes determination, hands down," said Sgt. Kevin Maynard, U.S. Marines marketing and public affairs representative. "If you want it badly enough, you can do it."

Those who sign up for the Marine Corps have to show they want the title of Marine while displaying physical fitness, an exemplary educational background and a strong character, Maynard added.

Edwards will head to basic training in September, which is a difficult 13-week course. However, he will not be alone before his journey begins. Edwards' recruiter will be on hand to help prepare him for boot camp by helping him train physically and teach him the history of the Corps.

"I feel like joining is a good thing and I feel confident that it'll be awesome," Edwards added. "I think it's going to teach me a lot and it will open up more opportunities, like traveling, for me."