Military Yearbook 2012: Family has three sons at service academiesWritten by Erik Gable | | firstname.lastname@example.org
They went through high school playing the same sports for the same team, and now that they’ve graduated, the Wawrzyniak brothers of Sylvania are still playing for the same team — their country.
Nicholas, Jacob and Scott Wawrzyniak all played football and hockey at St. Francis de Sales High School and all three are now in training for the armed forces, earning their degrees and their commissions at two of the country’s prestigious military academies.
Nicholas, 21, is entering his senior year at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; Jacob, 19, is studying at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.; and Scott, 18, is about to join his oldest brother in Colorado Springs.
Nicholas said he was drawn to the military by the desire for something more challenging than a traditional college education. He found the combination of rigorous academics, military training and mandatory athletics appealing.
“I was looking for a challenge as far as education goes,” he said.
He’s majoring in systems engineering management and hopes to fly helicopters after graduation — a passion he discovered during an Air Force Academy summer program between his sophomore and junior years when he had a chance to fly with the 10th Helicopter Squadron in the Washington, D.C., area.
“I just fell in love with the idea,” he said.
Jacob considered the Air Force as well — in fact, he said, he applied to all four service academies — but decided on the Coast Guard Academy because it offered an opportunity to play football.
He also likes the Coast Guard because of its purpose, he said.
“I like the humanitarian mission and the Homeland Security, the defense part of it — stopping the smuggling of drugs and saving lives,” he said.
Scott, the youngest of the three brothers, said his first choice was actually the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., but the Navy told him he would need to attend a year of preparatory training before his four years of study, while the Air Force Academy would allow him to start right away. He said he hopes to cross-commission into the Navy after he graduates.
Scott said he’s always been fascinated by the Navy SEALs and would like to work in special operations.
“I love the competition,” he said. “I love being pushed to my full potential at all times, and there’s no room for error. You’ve got to be at the top of your game and you’re going to be part of the best team in the world at what they do.”
Scott and Jacob, who are only 11 months apart in age, have been workout partners since middle school.
“We’ve been pushing each other since probably sixth grade when we started working out together,” Scott said. “It’s always competitive — who can run faster, who can lift more — but always in a positive direction.”
Their father, Jeff, is an attorney with Affinia Group in Ann Arbor, and their mother, Kathy, teaches English at Penta Career Center in Perrysburg.
Jeff said the boys have always pushed each other.
“There’s definitely some competitiveness amongst the three of them,” he said.
Military service runs in the family. The brothers’ maternal and paternal grandfathers both served in the Army, one of their great-uncles served with the Marine Corps at Iwo Jima and two other great-uncles served in Korea.
“It’s really been kind of a family affair,” their father said.
For their parents, seeing their sons go into military training carries some worry — but also no small amount of pride.
“There’s a little bit of angst,” Jeff said, “but when you think of the things kids do today in terms of putting their time and their effort behind, this is a doggone noble thing to do, so we’re very proud of them.”
Jeff and Kathy’s youngest child and only daughter, Katie, will be a junior this fall at St. Ursula Academy. Her father said she’s considering military service too, possibly in the Coast Guard.
The oldest Wawrzyniak sibling, Nicholas, said the schools are selective and it’s not easy to get all the way through — which makes it even more meaningful to have both of his brothers and possibly his sister following in his footsteps.
“I’m very proud to be from that type of family,” he said.