Class of 2017 graduates to serve in the U.S. Army
Members of Northwestern Lehigh’s Class of 2017 walked out of Stabler Arena June 3 ready to begin their lives in new ways.
At least three of them had already committed to starting their future in the United States Army.
Niko Fager, who earned a full scholarship to Valley Forge Military College for two years, is one of them.
“It’s called an Early Commissioning Program,” Fager said. “[We’ll] get everything done in two years.
“They’re going to push us hard [so] we need to work twice as hard.”
After completing the program, Fager will attend another college that offers his degree and will accept his credits.
“After I finish my four year degree is when I will begin with the Army,” Fager said.
“Originally, I wanted to go in as an enlisted man, but I’m [actually] going to go in as an officer.
“I wanted to be an infantry officer but “I’ll have to choose an officer’s job [but the Army] will help me out.”
Fager leaves for Fort Knox, Ky., on July 12.
“It’s almost like basic training,” Fager said. “I’ll be there a month. When I first start at Valley Forge College, I’ll be a plebe. [After] a six-week process, I’ll become a cadet.”
As part of the application process, Fager had an interview with a colonel, a sergeant and one of the board members.
“They asked why I wanted to be an officer; why I wanted to serve my country and what [I thought] are the values of the Army,” he said. “[They asked] about my family support and prior jobs.
“Most of the questions were about why I wanted to be an officer.”
The committee also asked Fager about current events related to the military and reviewed his SAT scores.
This is the realization of his long-held dream.
“I knew I wanted to protect and serve my country from a young age,” Fager said. “My parents said that’s all I talked about.
“Both my grandparents served — one in the Army, one in Navy. They always talked about their experience.
“My parents are in full support. “They said do it; do what you were born to do.”
Micah Marushak is also Army bound. He signed his papers on Nov. 10, 2016.
“I think it’s the better branch,” Marushak said. “I just wanted to serve my country and I have wanted to do that ever since I was really small. I know how bad the world is out there. I just don’t want the United States to end up like some other countries like Syria or North Korea.”
Marushak signed up for the military police.
“That is the job I get for the rest of my contract which is eight years long, two years active ready and six years reserve,” he explained. “If we were to go to war now, we’re already trained and are ready to go out and serve before going to a draft.”
Marushak is fairly certain he will be spending time in another country.
“I know my unit now is scheduled to go to South Korea or Syria,” he said. “I just think the training and skills they teach me will prevail.“
Marushak, who has his parents’ support, said his Army contract has already started.
“Right now, I’m in the position of a future soldier.” he said. “Every Wednesday, we go to the Allentown Recruiting Center across from the AMC on Tilghman [Street, South Whitehall] and we [participate in] training classes or do PT.
“We also talk about military customs and courtesy, and talk about the proper way to address personnel or do a military salute. We even used a military map one time.”
Matt Grim has been a familiar face on the school’s Morning Show but on Aug. 1 he will begin an entirely new assignment. Grim will report for his Army duty that day, serving at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.
“When I was little, I always wanted to be a police officer,” he said. “After the military, you can just go right in. I’ll already have all the training I’ll need.
“I originally wanted to be a dog handler but that was already taken. My next choice was military police, so I went with that.”
Grim said it will probably take about 19 weeks of military police school right off the bat.
“It’s boot camp and the job training is for military police,” Grim said. “Then I’ll get stationed somewhere.
“It might be in Europe or Asia somewhere.”
Grim has an eight-year commitment, five active duty and three nonactive.
“I’m technically already enlisted,” he said. “I signed papers and took an oath on Jan. 19. There were four of us. [The oath] was on the wall and the captain said it first and then we recited it.”
Grim’s parents support his decision even though his mother was a little hesitant at first.
“As long as I’m not sitting in the basement,” he joked.
Grim started thinking about joining the Army at the end of his junior year.
“During the summer of last year an Army recruiter called and we talked,” he said. “I’ve always been active [so] I’m comfortable doing the active part and I can problem solve, too. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Grim has already been easing into this challenge.
“Every Wednesday, we run, do push-ups, squats and pull ups,” he said. “Sometimes, they teach us other things.
“There are about 15-20 there at the recruiting office near the AMC. Sometimes, we get a van and go to a park.
“They’re all different people, different ethnicities. It’s good to see us all interacting and bonding together.”
Grim had some advice for other students who are considering the military option.
“If you’re thinking about doing it, don’t be afraid to approach a recruiter,” Grim said. “You don’t have to worry about student loans and it will be a great experience to meet different people. “