TENNERTON – There’s no shortage of signing ceremonies for high school seniors who want to play collegiate sports, but this past Thursday, Buckhannon-Upshur High School hosted another type of signing ceremony for juniors and seniors with vastly different plans for their futures.
During Military Signing Week, eight B-UHS juniors and seniors enlisting in the West Virginia Army National Guard, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps participated in an official signing ceremony April 27 in the high school auditorium.
Three students – Joseph Butcher, Bryce Cayton and Cory Harris – enlisted in the West Virginia Army National Guard. Two other students, Tyler Hobbs and Hailey Lashmit, committed to joining the U.S. Navy, and another three pledged to join the U.S. Marine Corps: Walker Bush, Dalton Crites and Brayden Snyder.
Ceremony emcee Major Mitchell Shaw of the West Virginia Army National Guard, a B-UHS alum, thanked the high school for hosting the Military Signing Week ceremony.
“I just want to start off by saying how cool a signing week is for the military,” Shaw said. “Many of you in the room are probably sports fans and or are into athletics, and for years and years and years, there have been signing days for kids to go to college to play sports, but this is something that is bigger than sports, bigger than what most of us are even thinking about going into our future,” Shaw said.
Joining the U.S. Armed Forces demonstrates a commitment like no other, he said.
“To sacrifice your time, your efforts, your day-to-day life to join the military is just an amazing thing and deserves recognition, so I want to say just how cool I think this event is and I want to thank you guys for putting it on,” Shaw said.
Cultivating a solid support system is vital to a successful stint in the military, given how much sacrifice is involved, he added.
“What I can’t stress enough is that there’s got to be a good support system in place for all of you,” Shaw said. “Whenever you have to leave to go to basic training, or if you should have to deploy one day, it’s very, very important that you have a strong support system, so family, friends, mentors, whoever it may be, remember that these folks when they’re gone and support them – whether it be sending them a letter or a text of encouragement to get them through what they’re going through or calling them.”
Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Upshur County Schools Finance Director Jeffrey Perkins expressed gratitude for the opportunities a 44-year career in the U.S. Armed Forces afforded him.
“I will tell you that in my 44 years – I was enlisted for 11 years and then an officer for 27 years – the military gave me the opportunity to learn to follow and to learn to be a leader,” he said.
Perkins said that of the 23 percent of U.S. citizens between the ages of 17-23 who are physically and mentally eligible to serve in the Armed Forces, one 1 percent opts in.
“There’s only 1 percent of the population in America that takes or has the opportunity to serve in the military, and I want to thank you for being part of that 1 percent,” he said. “Lastly, military service is important because it helps ensure the safety and security of our nation. The men and women of our Armed Forces are on the front lines, defending our borders and deterring potential adversaries. They work tirelessly to protect our interests, both at home and abroad.”
Perkins said a successful career in the military “requires sacrifice, dedication and a deep commitment to serving something greater than oneself.”
B-UHS assistant principal Zachary Davis oversaw the signing ceremony, and Staff Sergeant Judd Holcomb with the W.Va. Army National Guard highlighted the roles each of the eight enlisting students expected to fill.
Of the three students joining the Army National Guard, senior Joseph Butcher enlisted as a military police officer, junior Cory Harris enlisted as an automated logistical specialist, and Bryce Cayton enlisted as a combat medic. Tyler Hobbs signed on to serve as an aviation mechanic and/or an air-rescue swimmer in the Navy and Hailey Lashmit hopes to work as a nurse in a Navy hospital in the U.S. or abroad and/or on one of the Navy’s specialized hospital ships.
Dalton Crites, Walker Bush and Brayden Snyder are all enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps. Crites was inspired to join the Armed Forces by his father but hadn’t initially selected the Marine Corps.
“My dad actually served in the Army for 20 years, so I always thought about joining the Army, but they [the U.S. Marine Corps] were the first ones to call me,” he said. “I got a call out of the blue from a Marine recruiter to set up a meeting, and I was signing the next week.”
“It’s just something I really wanted to do. If something’s going on, they’re the first ones there and I wanted to be a part of that,” he added.
Snyder said he’s known he wanted to enlist since his middle school years.
“Honestly, since middle school, it’s been something that I’ve really always wanted to do. At that time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the Marines or how to get in the Marines, and then here comes my senior year, and a Marine recruiter calls me and a week later, I’m signing,” he said.
He said service to his country is among his core values.
“The training and the skills you come out with, it’s just all stuff I really wanted to have,” Snyder said.