Northwestern grads commit to military service
With commencement behind them, several Northwestern Lehigh High School graduates have made the life-changing decision to enlist in one of the military branches.
Some have already signed, and even started their new life serving the nation.
Will Dellicker has been serving in the National Guard since he turned 17.
Dellicker will be fulfilling his commitment while simultaneously studying at Grove City College, Grove City, where he will major in Biblical and religious studies.
“I would like to become a minister on the civilian side, but also serve in the infantry,” he said. “I thought about becoming a chaplain in the Army, but I’ll see. Right now, I’ve joined the infantry.”
“When you’re in the National Guard, you’re not on active duty.
“I basically go one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. It’s part-time service while I’m a full-time student.”
Dellicker disputes some common misconceptions about the National Guard.
“Some people think [the Guard] is the JV of the Army, and that’s just not true,” Dellicker said. “My dad has in the Guard and he’s been deployed four times.
“You’re basically a citizen soldier.”
“The Army National Guard is a reserved component of the active Army.
“It’s under state control as well as the Constitution of the United States. You basically have a state mission as well as a national mission.”
Dellicker has the support of his family.
“They basically said it’s up to me. They’ve supported me a lot and they’ve been my biggest cheerleaders,” he explained. “My family has a long tradition of military service going back to WWI.
“I value my country and our freedom and it’s something worth fighting for.”
“My friends have all supported me especially in a place like Northwestern.
“There’s so many ties to the military here and a love for the country.”
Aiden Gantz enlisted in the Navy before his senior year last June.
“I’ve had a lot of family in the Navy, my dad and my grandfather, but it was my decision,” he said, “College tuition assistance is the primary reason I did it. I don’t really want to be in debt.
“I’m going to be working in aviation, working with electronics on airplanes.
“I chose it because I want to be a pilot after I get out, so I wanted to get as much background knowledge as possible.”
When Gantz signed up at the recruitment office on Hamilton Street in Allentown, his parents were excited.
“They said go for it,” he said. “I went with my dad. I liked the benefits they offered.”
Gantz said he will probably miss being around his family all the time.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of moving to different places not knowing where you’re going,” Gantz said. “They don’t really tell you that stuff until you’re at boot camp.
“I’ll be going to the Great Lakes in Illinois. I think we fly to Michigan and they bus us there.”
Ryan Fink hopes the Army will help him realize his dreams for the future.
“I looked at my recruiter and he said that what I wanted to do is not even a question so I said, ‘sign me up.’”
Fink signed with the Army in mid-January.
“I actually signed up for three years and 32 weeks,” he said. “I start boot camp on July 23 at Fort Jackson, S.C.”
“I’ll be working on big vehicles, big armored vehicles as MOS 91 Bravo.
“I’ll also get airborne training, so I get to jump out of planes, which as time went on seemed like I wanted.”
He, too, has family ties to the military.
“My uncle served in the Navy in Vietnam and my great-grandfather was a sniper in WWI,” he said. “I just feel it’s a family tradition.”
His interest in recruitment started when he heard family stories.
“When the astronauts came back from space my uncle was part of their retrieval,” Fink said. “He was on aircraft carriers.
“My great-grandfather was so good as a gunner, people said he could shoot a bee with a rifle with no scope a hundred yards away.”
Ben McQuilken is following a long-held dream by enlisting in the Army.
“It always seemed like a decision I’ve wanted to make throughout my lifetime, that I wanted to pursue,” McQuilken said. “I was always fascinated by it.
“My grandfather was in the Marine Corps. He retired as a gunny sergeant. He traveled all over in Korea, Japan and Cuba.
“He never really talked about it but he inspired me to invest my time in the military.”
Even before graduation, McQuilken was moving forward with his future.
“I’m going down to Harrisburg and I’m going down to sign today,” he said.
McQuilken said he would be meeting with his recruiter to pick his job, such as infantry or serving overseas.
“I want to do as much as I can,” McQuilken said. “I would like to get at least four years active duty and I’d also like to travel.
“My parents are a little nervous but they’ve accepted my decision and want what’s best for me. They want me to follow my dreams.
“I think it’s a little bit of a leap of faith but I’ve been preparing myself and this is what I’ve wanted for a long time.”
McQuilken said he was looking to doing his part to serve his county.
“It is dangerous out there but certain people have to step up and face that danger,” he said.
Mason Piescienski will be going into the Army as a cyber operations specialist.
“It sounds cooler than it is but it’s just a department of the Army,” he said.
Piescienski is concerned about his future employment.
“It’s a job that is in really high demand in the private sector,” he said. “PPL had to open up an entirely new area near Washington, D.C., to find people who would want to do the job.”
He learned this first hand from his father who is a project manager for PPL.
“I’ve been really interested in this field,” he said. “My dad does something very similar. It’s really nice to know that I’ll have a career waiting for me.
“If I decide I like the Army, I’ll make a career of it. If not, I could go into the private sector.”
Piescienski signed up about two months ago at the recruiting center in Bethlehem.
“You have to do paperwork and pick your job so you do have to go back a few times but I went with my dad who really helped me,” he explained. “My parents were very supportive, and I was very, very happy when I finally enlisted. It was a relief knowing I had a job lined up.”
He noted college is not for everyone.
“Going to school you’re basically told you have to go to college, but going on to two or four years of school didn’t sound very good to me,” Piescienski said. “Actually, going to college would be even scarier because of the massive amounts of student debt, and fewer options about getting a job. To me, going to college has more downsides than going into the Army.”
Piescienski said a giant weight was lifted from his shoulders.
“It’s a job I’m really interested in with a lot of opportunities,” he explained. “I could make something of myself. No one pressured me into doing it.”
Tyler Lobach’s brother had joined and I had a really good conversation about it, Piescienski said.
“So, I started doing some research about the army and after I brought it up to my dad, he talked with his friend who is a recruiter and that started the process,” he said. “I’m going to boot camp in under two months, I think, in South Carolina.
“I’ve done plenty of research on it. It’s nine weeks of work. After boot camp, I’ll get trained and then I go to my job. The Army actually gives you some options, but ultimately they pick for you.”
Piescienski said if anyone doesn’t know what they want to do, to take a look at the service.
“There’s a lot more stuff there than most people know. There’s a load of jobs you could pick from so it’s worth taking a look.”
Two other seniors will also be serving the nation.
Tyler Lobach is enlisting in Army and Nolan Hernandez will make NROTC part of his life.