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Anne Arundel midshipmen look to graduation — and back on their experiences at USNA

wwinters@capgaznews.com

The morning of May 25, slightly more than 1,060 Midshipmen will graduate from the Naval Academy and nearly all will be commissioned as officers in the U.S. Navy, in the U.S. Marine Corps, or another service in the U.S. or a foreign country.

About 71 will be Maryland residents, and of those, 19 will be from Anne Arundel County and two from Stevensville in Queen Anne’s County.

On the final day of classes, nine of the graduating local “Firsties” stopped in front of Bancroft Hall to talk about their plans – and take a look back.

The four years have been an adventure: they’ve traveled the world, met presidents and celebrities, recovered from injuries, and got accustomed to the meals at King Hall, the academy’s cafeteria. Every one of the nine has held two or more leadership positions at the platoon, company or brigade levels.

Let’s meet them:

Alexander “AJ” Beal, 22, a 2014 South River High graduate was also a member of the Navy JROTC Unit at Annapolis High School. Growing up, he said, “my family sponsored several midshipmen. They were great role models for me and I wanted to follow the path they took.”

He left the states for the first time during a summer program to Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, and has since been to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and the Virgin Islands.

He will be commissioned as a Marine Corps officer at graduation and head to Quantico for training. “As much as I’d like to see my academy experience continue on forever here,” he said, “I think that it would be a mistake to let nostalgia stagnate the Academy’s ability to provide the best preparation for new officers.” He feels there is room for change. “The Naval Academy is far from perfect, but there are plenty of people taking a hard look and making the changes along the way.’

Collierville, TN native Justice Luke Cash, 22, is a 2014 Annapolis High graduate. He, too, will be commissioned as a Marine Corps officer. But, first, he’s going to Bahrain to visit his family. His father, in the Navy, is stationed there.

Christine Chhor, 22, is going to miss being so close to the friends she’s made at the Academy. A 2014 Severna Park High graduate, Chhor is a first-generation American. Her parents were Cambodian refugees who survived the Khmer Rouge. “I wanted to serve my country and give back to the country who gave my family a second chance,” she said. Her uncle graduated from USNA in 2006. “From seeing the experience that he had here as well as the experiences of my Sponsor siblings, I realized that USNA was a great place for both academics and leadership and character development.”

A valuable learning experience occurred last year when she traveled to Vietnam on a LREC (Language, Regional Expertise and Culture) trip with three other midshipmen and cadets from West Point and the Air Force Academy. In a few weeks, she reports for duty as a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) aboard the destroyer USS John Paul Jones, based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The best experience Stevensville resident Anna Haschert, 21, had at USNA, was her semester abroad in Kazakhstan. She lived with a family that only spoke Russian. Haschert had the opportunity to “climb beautiful, snow-capped mountains, ice skate at the highest skating rink in the world, attend a ballet with the President of Kazakhstan, make lifelong friends, and learn a new culture and way of life.” She also spent a month in Latvia studying Russian.

Due to a medical disqualification, Haschert, a 2014 graduate of Elizabeth Seton High School, will be transitioning to civilian life starting with an internship with IDS International in Arlington, VA, working on cyber training projects for the Army. She already knows she’ll miss the “Nights out in town with my company mates” and the free, unlimited ice cream at King Hall.

Ali Miller, 21, is a 2013 Broadneck High grad, and spent a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, RI. She comes from a Navy family: her father Greg Miller is a USNA ’80 grad, and Uncle Scott Miller is from the Class of ’92. “I wanted to be the first girl in the family to be in the military,” she said. On Sept. 28, she will report for Navy Pilot training at Pensacola.

Severn School 2014 grad, Braden Nelligan, 21, is from a Navy family, too. His grandfather and an uncle were military officers. In a few weeks, he’ll go to the Mayport Naval Base in Florida to train as a SWO on the destroyer USS Paul Ignatius. For him, the saddest moment at USNA was “losing to Army.” Twice.

Quantitative Economics major Arden Smith, 22, is a Broadneck High 2014 graduate. Recruited to play Lacrosse, she gave it up to get more involved in Company 26 as Platoon Commander. She relished a recent surface cruise aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, and a trip to Alaska, the first time she’d been to the west coast. After graduation, she will head to San Diego, CA, and to the USS Makin Island, to serve as a SWO. “I loved the people I met here,” Smith said.

Matt Tumelly, 23, a Broadneck High ’13 alum, is following in his father’s footsteps. His dad, Tim Tumelly, is a member of the USNA Class of 1988 and a Naval Aviator. Tumelly is headed to Pensacola for flight school and training as a Naval Aviator.

Sea Trials, for Tumelly, was a life-changer,as it was for many of his classmates. “It was a great bonding experience for my company,” he said.

Old Mill High ’14 grad, Caitlyn Vernon, is a member of the Marathon Team and a Computer Science major. She grew up going to Navy football games. When her brother, a 2015 grad, started attending the Academy, she “felt drawn to follow in his footsteps and lead a life of service like many in my family.”

Despite fracturing her spine Youngster (Sophomore) year, she later went backpacking for a month in the Rocky Mountains. While training during the summers aboard the USS Iwo Jima, the USS O’Kane, and USS Wyoming, she visited Spain and Hawaii. She hopes the Naval Academy continues to provide “great summer training opportunities. That is definitely when I learned the most.”

Vernon is heading to Mayport, FL, for Nuclear Surface Warfare training aboard the USS Thomas Muller.

It was sad, she said, “watching classes ahead of us graduate and move on,” but she relished “any time spent with my awesome company mates.”

Local Midshipmen First Class

Alexander “AJ” Beal, Edgewater

Martha Byrne, Annapolis

Justice Cash, Annapolis

Christine Chhor, Millersville

Sarah Childress, Millersville

Dillon Cooley, Severna Park

Peter Hanley, Crofton

Anna Haschert, Stevensville

Stephen Hincks, Edgewater

David Jones, Annapolis

Alexandra Miller, Annapolis

Braden Nelligan, Severna Park

Madeline Ostrowski, Annapolis

George Peng, Severn

David Plumer, Stevensville

Nicholas Ramsey, Crofton

Caleb Robertson, Annapolis

Arden Smith, Arnold

Matthew Tumelty, Arnold

Caitlyn Vernon, Millersville

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