Shipping Off: Stags enlist to serve their country

Kate Moores, Staff Writer

As students pack their bags for dorm rooms and college campuses, there are a select few from the Class of 2022 who will be gearing up for basic training for the military in the fall instead. Seniors Matt Speight, James Sutherland, Charles Cahalan and Riley Phelan have enlisted and are prepared to defend the country.
According to Phelan, his reason for joining the military is simple: he loves America.
“My family history and love for our country made it easy,” Phelan said.
After finishing the summer working on a ranch in Colorado, he will leave for the Army in August. Joining him will be James Sutherland, who thinks that service will better prepare him for the future.
“I chose to go to the Army to pursue the development of more skills in my life,” Sutherland said. “The discipline I’ll grow will make it worth it, as well as the opportunities for higher education.”
According to Sutherland, he hopes that the Army will save him money in the long run while also giving him unique opportunities to grow independence and strength.
“I think service will help me in the future by establishing a strong economic base for myself,” Sutherland said. “It will also give me the ability to structure efficiency and hard work in my everyday life.”
The Army isn’t the only branch of the military that will be hosting Stags soon: both Speight and Cahalan have enlisted in the Marines.
Speight’s decision came down to the support and history he found in his family with this branch, while Cahalan chose based off of academy offers.
“I’ve had lots of family serve in the Marine Corps,” Speight said.
Speight has wanted to join the military since he was a kid, and his dad helped him make that dream come true. It also doesn’t hurt that he won’t be serving alone.
“A couple of friends are enlisting with me,” Speight said.
While Speight may have company through basic training, Cahalan will be on his own for a unique kind of service. He recently accepted an appointment to the U.S. Marine Merchant Academy.
“Going to a federal service academy allows me to challenge myself,” Cahalan said. “I think I’ll have many unique job opportunities upon graduation.”
While Cahalan is prepared for service, he is mostly looking forward to careers in the Marines made possible through his time at the academy.
“I am very interested in the maritime industry,” Cahalan said. “This will help put me ahead in my career in many facets.”
Phelan, Sutherland, Speight and Cahalan will each have unique opportunities and experiences in their time serving. However, they all share one thing in common: they’re going to miss home.
“I’m really not looking forward to boot camp,” Phelan said. “More than anything, though, I’m going to miss my friends.”
After boot camp, both the Marines and the Army require a minimum of four years of active duty.
“I’m honestly focused on what comes after my time in active duty,” Sutherland said. “I’ll get a free education, which was enough to help in my decision to serve.”
The time away will be a significant adjustment right out of high school, according to Speight.
“I’m looking forward to getting to travel, but it will also be a lot of time really far away from home,” Speight said. “I feel ready for it though.”