Midshipmen get career selections

January 31, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Any midshipman knows that not even graduation can compare with the adrenalin rush of Service Selection Day, even though the career choice for most Naval Academy graduates isn't exactly a surprise.

"I knew I was going to get this," said Midshipman 1st Class Andrew Williams, a 21-year-old from Minneapolis, Minn., one of 203 academy students to make it into flight school. "But it didn't sink in until this moment. This is the icing on the cake."

About 1,060 graduating midshipmen went through the annual exercise yesterday, signing up for post-graduate military service officers in everything from ground combat-marine units to nuclear submarines.

"This is what these people have worked for since the time they entered," said Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, the academy's superintendent. "This is almost more important for the midshipmen than graduation itself."

Openings in the various concentrations are limited, and midshipmen must sign up by class rank. Those interviewed yesterday got their first choice.

For Mr. Williams, it's flight school in Pensacola, Fla., where he hopes to fly an F-18 fighter aircraft.

"I wanted to be a Navy pilot since I came here," said Mr. Williams, as he shed his blue Navy topcoat and put on a new leather flight jacket. Pilot candidates received the jackets and aviator sunglasses.

"Flight school is one of the more popular attractions," Lt. Frank Watt said.

Midshipman 1st Class Brian Burke, of Towson, always wanted to be a pilot. Yesterday, the 22-year-old Towson High graduate recalled playing with airplanes as a kid.

Now he's ready for the real thing. The dangers? "Driving a car is just as dangerous," he said.

But there's more to Service Selection Day than "Top-Gun" aspirations.

Midshipman 1st Class Shaun McAndrew, from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., wants to fly helicopters. And she remembered the disappointment of one of last year's women who also preferred flight school. Midshipman 1st Class Julianne Gallina, the first female brigade commander, learned during last year's Service Selection Day that she was 1.1 inches too short. She chose cryptology instead.

"I got measured three times," Ms. McAndrew said. "I passed all three times."

The current brigade commander, the leader of the 4,300 midshipmen at the academy, chose to serve on a nuclear submarine. First, Midshipman 1st Class Geoffrey Royal must go to Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Fla., to learn more mathematics and engineering.

"A submarine is very challenging," the 22-year-old from Houston said. "You are serving with some of the best and brightest officers the Navy has to offer."

Officers who choose submarine duty get a check when they sign up, as an incentive. Mr. Royal wouldn't say how much -- enough, though, that the drinks at last night's traditional parties were on him.

"Those of us who get the huge bonuses have to buy the first rounds wherever we go," he explained.

Fifteen senior midshipmen will become become Navy doctors.

One future doctor, Midshipman 1st Class Dan Seidensticker, 22, will study at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. After that, he said, "I'll probably owe back so much time [in repayment for his training], I'll be in the Navy for another 20 years."

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