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Protectors of The United States Don’t Sleep For Anything

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fghanistan, Iraq and Syria — these are only 3 out of the 150 countries where United States troops are deployed. Over 300,000 active-duty members are stationed outside the United States territory borders.

People who serve our country don’t do it because they have to, they do it because they have fallen in love with service, they see it as a way to gain focus and personal strength, or are born into military families.

According to, a nonpartisan news site, Maine has around 58 active duty members stationed all over the planet. There are 46 people in the army, 142 in the Navy, 9 Marine Corps, 10 in the Air Force ending with 551 in the Coast Guard.

Many civilians don’t understand the courage and guts it takes to join the military. Out of the 323 million people who live in the United States only .5 of those will ever consider going into the military. Recruiting for the military starts at a young age, around 16-18 years old. Here at Thornton Academy there are a handful of seniors who are planning to serve our country after graduation.

Senior Dana Sirois is looking forward to joining the Airforce right out of high school. She has already been accepted into The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado.

She was beyond excited to hear she would be able to go and said, “I couldn’t believe it, I opened up the letter in my dining room and almost fell over. It was only around 12 or 13 percent acceptance rate. I was shocked but glad.”

The reason she fell in love with the air force was because her uncle and aunt were both Air Force Pilots and she looked up to them a lot. Sirois also said that when the Air Force and Military truck came around school she was the first one in line and was always excited for what they would behold. “The simulator was my favorite,” said Sirois. “It felt like I was actually flying.”

Dana believes, “You can’t let your fears control everything you do, the day you let what scares you decide what you can or can not do is the day you lose yourself completely. I choose to park my doubts and worries at the doorstep of my house everyday leaving for school so I don’t have to worry about them all day.”

She took a long but meaningful pause, looked up and said, “I want to feel like a accomplished something and make a name for myself. I want to make myself feel like I left everything on the table when I finish my career.”

Meanwhile just down the hall another Thornton Academy senior is also committed to serving the country. 

Senior Logan Mathews, has already been through boot camp for the army,  at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. He was so committed that he rearranged his schedule and went midway through last February, spent 14 weeks in SC and got back halfway through July. He was able to work with the school to bank credits before leaving so he could have the boot camp experience without missing any of senior year. Mathews is currently back in Maine after boot camp and can’t wait to serve his country.

He said, “it was probably the hardest training that I have or ever will go through.” He went on to say that, “the expression welcome to hell was an understatement where I went. The amount of people who dropped out and quit way crazy.” 

Mathews stated, “One time they let us sleep in, I thought it was cool that they let us do that, but what I didn’t know was they were actually setting us up for a 15 mile run through the woods. I did survive but it took everything I had.”

Mathews said, “coming back from boot camp really gave me some insight on what is going to be different. My sleep schedule is totally messed up because waking up at 5 was normal for 14 weeks.”

He looks at life differently now. Going through boot camp showed him that “life isn’t always fair. Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns and control it yourself.”

Every student interested in the army must train for the Basic Training Physical Fitness Test. The test consists of three challenges, two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a timed, two-mile run. The Army bases scores on recruits age, gender, and the amount of time taken for each component. Men and women have the same challenges, but when it comes down to scoring, they are allowed to change the amount of total points you need

“I want to be proud of myself and serve our country with as much pride and spirit as the next guy in line,” said Logan Mathews.

Lastly, Ethan Russi, a senior who is thinking of going to the Marines. Ethan said, “I never really had anyone in my life who influenced me to join the Marines and it’s not like I woke up one day said to myself that I want this. Its one of those things where I did my research and I realized that I wanted the challenge and the feeling of serving my country.”

Russi plans to be a machine technician.

Machining Technicians for the Marines basically make sure everything is functional and keep everything moving. Machinists also fix major problems when in the field.

“On top of serving my country, the pay is also not bad at all. The Marines will actually pay for your college after your time is done, which is cool because I wanted to be an electrical engineer so being a machinist in the Marines will give me great experience.”

“The good thing about boot camp is that anyone is welcome, but the bad thing is that you can’t just quit or leave, you must stay the entire trip,” said Russi thinking ahead to this summer.

“Running wise I think I have a good grasp on it, I’m able to run for long periods of time while keeping a strong pace, but most importantly I’m fast. Physically I’m not that strong, but hopefully doing this will get me stronger and more fit.”

The United States Marine Corp Physical Fitness Test consists of three components: pull-ups, push-ups and a timed 3 mile run. push-ups and pull-ups are optional — you can pick between the two, but the trick is that the maximum score is only attainable if pull-ups are chosen.

“Before finishing my time in the Marines I would like to accomplish something that not anyone can do, I want to show people that I may be small, but I can do anything I want when I set my mind to it,” said Russi.

At graduation, these three students and others who have committed to military service will be invited to raise the American flag. It is a moving tribute to those students who are willing to sacrifice and face the pressure and courage it takes to serve our country. Dana, Mathew and Ethan are among the proud and the few who have made that decision.

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