Students earn service academy appointments

Posted: June 28, 2013

The Winchester Star

Morgan De Jong is headed to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
Simon Vogler is headed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

WINCHESTER — Two local students have received service academy appointments.

Handley High School senior Simon Vogler and Sherando High School senior Morgan De Jong, both 18, will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., respectively, beginning this summer.

They are the only area seniors this year to be accepted into one of the five service academies, which also include the Coast Guard in New London, Conn.; the Merchant Marine in Kings Point, N.Y.; and the Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo. Students are nominated by a congressman and/or senator.

“I think I’m ready for the physical aspect of it, and I’m ready to push myself intellectually,” De Jong said.

Both Vogler and De Jong are the first in their family to attend a service academy, but they’re not the first to serve: Vogler’s father was in the Army, his uncle in the Navy and his grandfather in the Air Force, while De Jong’s grandfather served in the Royal Artillery in England.

“I thought it was the easiest way to serve my country and help others,” Vogler said. ‘There are a lot of options to help.”

Vogler, with a GPA of 7.4, was Handley’s valedictorian. He is considering majoring in engineering and would like to go directly to graduate school after four years — something only the top 2 to 3 percent of graduates can do. All other graduates must begin serving their five years of active duty.

Students will graduate as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Vogler will report Monday to West Point, where he will endure six weeks of cadet basic training, also known as Beast Barracks. He’s most looking forward to meeting others like him — “Students who want to be officers in the military and do the same thing,” he said.

Vogler chose West Point over the University of Michigan and University of Virginia.

Between 1,200 and 1,500 students are admitted into West Point each year, out of approximately 11,000 to 15,000 applicants.

De Jong, who graduated with a 3.789 GPA, will swim at Navy.

“I wanted to do Division I swimming, and I knew they had a great program,” he said.

De Jong was The Winchester Star Boys’ Swimmer of the Year in 2011 as a Sherando sophomore, but the breaststroke standout has spent the last two seasons focusing on club swimming.

He left Wednesday to begin six weeks of basic training in Annapolis.

De Jong said he might major in physics and is not sure what he wants to do upon graduating.

He chose the Naval Academy over George Mason University.

“I’ve just always been interested,” he said of the military. “I like how challenging it seems.”

In a typical year, approximately 4,000 candidates receive nominations, but only 1,500 Naval appointments are given out. Students must serve five years of active duty service upon graduation. They are commissioned as ensigns in the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com