By Douglas Moser
---- — Five local young men got a boost to their hopes to enroll in one of the nation’s prestigious military academies with a recommendation from Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
The five seniors, from Andover and Methuen, applied to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy. All three of those institutions are prestigious, and highly selective. None of the candidates have heard from the academies yet.
Brian Manning and Eric Wybenga, seniors at Andover High School, Andrew Bolduc, a senior at Methuen High School, Sawyer Rogers, a Brooks School senior from Andover, and Brian Finn, a Lawrence Academy senior from Andover, were among 31 seniors whom Tsongas nominated for the academies.
Some of them are following in a family tradition, while others are looking for the physical and mental challenges an academy offers.
“I like the regimented lifestyle, the hierarchy,” said Wybenga, who was recommended for West Point but also applied to the Naval Academy. “They’re straight-shooting people who know what they want.”
Wybenga’s father, Derk, went to the Air Force Academy and served in the Air Force. “It can be an exciting lifestyle,” he said.
Eric Wybenga is focusing on engineering and said he is at home with the math. “I’ve always liked figuring out how things worked,” he said. “Computers have always intrigued me.
Even if he does not get into an academy, he would study at Virginia Tech and enroll in the ROTC program there.
Bolduc is pursuing engineering at the Air Force Academy, and discovered he could combine his interest in engineering and airplanes with his talent in math.
“I love building things, and I love planes,” he said. “A couple years ago I researched aeronautical engineering and loved it.”
He has an uncle who is a command sergeant major in the Army currently serving in Afghanistan and another uncle who previously served in the Air Force.
Bolduc also applied to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Ariz.
Manning, a longtime gymnast who was recommended for West Point, said he applied for the physical and mental challenge of the academy.
“I wanted to go into special forces,” he said. “It’s a branch of military that really tests the physical and mental capabilities of humans. I’m big about pushing yourself physically and mentally.”
Manning qualified for the Junior Olympics in gymnastics last year and did well on the rings, which he said is his strongest
All the candidates said they were excited and honored to receive a recommendation from Tsongas, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
“I was ecstatic,” Bolduc said, who also received a recommendation letter from former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.
“Each year I have the privilege of nominating a select group of young men and women from the Third Congressional District to our nation’s service academies,” Tsongas said. “These nominees have demonstrated academic excellence in their high school classrooms, considerable achievement in athletic and extracurricular activities, and a strong desire to serve their communities and country. This reception will offer the opportunity to honor these remarkable young men and women and recognize their dedication to the Third District’s proud military tradition.”
The candidates she recommended met for a ceremony Feb. 21 at Lowell City Hall.
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