With grandsons at both service academies, Havre de Grace woman cheers for Army and Navy

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When watching the annual Army-Navy football game, Havre de Grace resident Mary Lynn Snyder wears sweats bearing the logos of each team — she has one grandson at each service academy.

Her husband, Carey, wears hats from both academies, she said.

“You [root for] half on one side and half on the other,” Snyder, 77, said Monday. “No matter who wins, we win as grandparents.”

She said she attends the Army-Navy game often, but could not go to this year’s game played Saturday in Philadelphia. The Army Black Knights defeated the Midshipmen, 17-10, in the 119th game in the long-term rivalry. It was the third straight win for Army.

Snyder’s grandson, Brandon Schultz, attends the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York State. His cousin, Collin Snyder, attends the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Both are seniors and scheduled to graduate in 2019, Snyder said.

Other relatives were at the game, and both grandsons were there, as attendance by cadets and midshipmen is mandatory, according to Snyder.

Collin Snyder, 21, said he has been going to the Army-Navy game since he was a child, when his uncle, John Schultz, took him and Brandon to the games.

“It’s really kind of a cool and special place for the two of us [Brandon and Collin],” Collin Snyder said of the annual contest, the result of which he said was disappointing.

“I’m glad it was a good fight and not a blowout,” Brandon Schultz, 22, of West Point, said. “I’m excited that we won again and hope that [the winning streak] continues.”

Mary Lynn Snyder, who watched this year’s game on television, said she is “very proud, extremely proud” that the two oldest of her five grandchildren attend the service academies and plan to join the military.

Brandon is the son of Snyder’s daughter, Laura, and her husband, John Schultz. Brandon’s father is a member of the active-duty Navy. The family lives in St. Mary’s County, as John Schultz had been assigned to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, and he is currently an instructor at Annapolis. Snyder said her grandson plans to be in the Army infantry after graduating from West Point.

Her grandson Collin is the child of her son, Alan Snyder, and his wife, Heidi. Collin’s family lives in Northern Virginia.

A member of the Naval Academy rowing team, Collin said he has earned a spot in BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, training. The six-month training course, which includes weeks of grueling physical training followed by diving and land warfare training, is in Coronado, Calif., according to the Navy SEALs website.

“It will be pretty tough, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

His grandmother said “you just suck it up and move on, keep your thoughts to yourself,” rather than worry about the potential danger Brandon and Collin could face, should they be deployed to fight in the ongoing U.S. Global War on Terror.

“You can’t be afraid,” she said. “You have to have faith, otherwise you drive yourself nuts.”

Collin cited his intense love for his country, saying “it is absolutely worth it,” to bear the stresses of being away from his family and “the harsh reality” of war.

“’If not me, then who,’ in the words of Travis Manion,” Collin said, referencing the Naval Academy graduate and Marine first lieutenant who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007. “That’s something that’s definitely worth everything I have and everything I’m willing to give.”

His cousin, Brandon, said he will go through Army Ranger training school after he graduates next May. He would be qualified as a Ranger, should he complete the training, but he would not automatically be a member of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. Brandon’s initial plan for his Army career is to be an infantry officer, he said Thursday.

“It’s a little bit daunting, but it’s what you sign up for,” he said of the possibility of being deployed to a war zone. “I think everybody who is in that position knows the risk, and you just have to put it out of your mind.”

Brandon added that “at the same time, it’s what we want to do; it’s what we signed up for.”

‘A very disciplined world’

Snyder is a Realtor with BCH Real Estate in Havre de Grace. Her husband, Carey, 85, is an Army veteran drafted into the service toward the end of the Korean War — he served in the U.S. during the war, however.

They raised their two children, Alan and Laura, in Havre de Grace. She is proud that both children are products of the city’s public elementary, middle and high schools.

“You have to be very determined and sure this is what you want to do,” she said of her grandsons’ decisions to attend the service academies, noting the “very rigorous and demanding” nature of both schools.

She said students are taken from the world “as you and I know it,” and they “enter a very disciplined world and life, extremely disciplined.”

Snyder cited members of the military who were on duty during the recent funeral of former President George H.W. Bush.

“You see how patient they have to be and how organized and dependable,” she said.

Brandon, who will start his fall semester final exams next week, said his experience has been “tough,” and there have been times where he has doubted himself. He expects, though, that a West Point cadet graduates “with a lot more confidence.”

“You just have to put one foot in front of the other foot and think about the end state, which is graduation, and having an exciting job where you can do some good, hopefully,” he said.

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