September 2, 2014

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58 Lorain County high school students join military in Cleveland ceremony

Wellington High School senior Shirley Burgess walks across the stage at Cleveland State University after joining the Ohio Army National Guard on Wednesday.  KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

Wellington High School senior Shirley Burgess walks across the stage at Cleveland State University after joining the Ohio Army National Guard on Wednesday. KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

CLEVELAND — Retired Army veteran Bill Willoughby said the sight on Wednesday night was like looking at the future of the country.

Clearview High School senior Nicholas Keathley is congratulated by Major General Deborah Ashenhurst as he walks across the stage at Cleveland State University on Wednesday.

Clearview High School senior Nicholas Keathley is congratulated by Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst as he walks across the stage at Cleveland State University on Wednesday.

Young, soon-to-be high school graduates from Northeast Ohio filled the rows of Waetjen Auditorium at Cleveland State University. Some donned military uniforms, others opted for formal wear, representing their different phases of starting their military careers. Some high school students — like many who plan to join the National Guard — had started their training over the summer.

Others had only enlisted and made a commitment to join the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy or National Guard when they graduate from high school.

However almost all of the more than 400 graduating seniors came to the auditorium to both meet with high-ranking military officials and to be welcomed into the service in a fourth annual event hosted by Our Community Salutes of Northeast Ohio.

“This is a day for celebration,” Air Force Gen. Mark Brown told the crowd of students, parents and military personnel. “I got here happy to inspire, and I was inspired.”

The students were introduced on stage individually and were thanked for what many speakers called their “bravery” and “nobility” in joining the military.

In his speech, Brown looked to the room of Northeast Ohio students, including 58 from Lorain County, addressing the role small towns and villages played in persuading students to serve.

“It’s the village that got us here. We must appreciate the village,” Brown said. “Chances are, someone along the way has lifted you up.”

Lorain High School senior Ivan Cordova walks across the stage at Cleveland State University shaking the hands of Army officers as he joined the Army on Wednesday.

Lorain High School senior Ivan Cordova walks across the stage at Cleveland State University shaking the hands of Army officers as he joined the Army on Wednesday.

One speaker delivered a strong message and warning.

“You’re setting an example for all those out there who couldn’t qualify, who weren’t brave enough, who didn’t have the strong morals to join the U.S. Army,” Ohio Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst said, asking the students to remember that they will be representing the United States.

Though the auditorium was full with students eager to serve, Vietnam War veteran Willoughby couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.

“The military is shrinking. There are fewer Navy bases. What we need is to maintain contact between the populace and the military,” Willoughby said.

He added that while more than 400 enlisted students sounds like a lot, it is a small percentage of the population of Northeast Ohio.

“There needs to be a representation of the populace the (military) is protecting,” he said.

However, Willoughby, who has been an active figure in the veteran community for years, said that will take time and a greater focus on the military.

“We need to maintain community visibility,” he said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

Air Force:

  • Nathan Fitzpatrick – Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Kayla Gioiello – Sheffield Lake, Brookside High School
  • Brandon Gregory – Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Koty Hayes – North Ridgeville, North Ridgeville High School
  • Jujuan Howard – Wellington, Wellington High School
  • Ryan Julius – Avon, Avon High School
  • Alejandro Klamer - Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Brett McEntire – Avon Lake, Avon Lake High School
  • Dylan Turney – Amherst, Amherst-Steele High School
  • Cassandra Wagner - Wellington, Wellington High School

U.S. Army:

  • Ivan Cordova - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Anthony Keathley – Lorain, Clearview High School
  • Nicholas Keathley - Lorain, Clearview High School
  • Luis Maldonado - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Tomas Ornealas Ramirez - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Nathan Payne - Elyria, Midview High School
  • Raven Rippe – Grafton, Lorain County JVS

Army National Guard:

  • Ronald Anderson III - Wellington, Wellington High School
  • Jared Angell - Vermilion, Vermilion High School
  • Kayla Brochu – Avon Lake, Avon Lake High School/JVS
  • Larry Brown - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Shirley Burgess - Wellington, Wellington High School
  • Alexis Champe - Amherst-Steele High School
  • Ryan Clark - Vermilion, Vermilion High School
  • Travis Collins – Oberlin, Firelands High School
  • Robert  Dungan - North Ridgeville, North Ridgeville High School
  • Julie Foltz – Grafton, Midview High School
  • Shaquille Hildreth - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Cody Lahetta – Amherst, Firelands High School
  • Nicolas McClary - Avon, Avon High School
  • Patrick Riley - Vermilion, Vermilion High School
  • Davaughn Scott-Alston - Lorain, Clearview High School
  • Michaela Shull - North Ridgeville, North Ridgeville High School
  • Anthony Strader - Vermilion, Vermilion High School
  • Michael Waleri – Vermilion, Firelands High School

Ohio Air Guard:

  • Robert Koltas – Sheffield Village, Brookside High School
  • Andrew Varnis - Avon Lake, Avon Lake High School
  • Deanna Velez - Lorain, Lorain High School

Navy:

  • Adrienne Bowers - Avon Lake, Avon Lake High School
  • Alyssa Buga - Vermilion, Vermilion High School
  • Raeqwan Hill-Ross - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Alysa Mutnansky - Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Veronica Payne - Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Jordan Rodriguez - Elyria, Elyria High School

Marine Corps:

  • Sofia Alvarez – Elyria, Midview High School
  • Jacob Cole - South Amherst, Firelands High School
  • Gregory Decker – Lorain, Amherst-Steele High School
  • A.C. Forester - Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Nicholas Guzman - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Trevor Marcum – South Amherst, Firelands High School
  • Brandon Metz - Columbia Station, Columbia High School
  • Sean Nagle – Columbia Station, Columbia High School
  • Dylan Newman - South Amherst, Firelands High School
  • Tyler Rutherford - Elyria, Elyria High School
  • Elvis Saikaly - Avon, Avon High School
  • Jacob Thacker - Lorain, Lorain High School
  • Scott Toth - Sheffield Lake, Brookside High School
  • Trenten Williams - Elyria, Elyria High School

  • Joe Smith

    Serve proud

  • Simon Jester

    Good on all of them.

    Semper Fi to the poor souls headed down to The Island.