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  • Our Hometown Heros
    • Davina Lee - Navy
    • Tori Foy - Army
    • Noah Irvin - Marines
    • Christian Fink - Army National Guard
    • Gage Fink - Army
    • Tommy Hall - Marines
    • Andrew Bell Bigelow - Navy
    • Makenzie Stauffer - Air Force
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Hometown Heroes: Recent Tyrone Grads Share Stories of Service

The Tyrone community has a long history of military service and of honoring that service at events like the annual Memorial Day parade (pictured).

The Tyrone community has a long history of military service and of honoring that service at events like the annual Memorial Day parade (pictured).

Photo courtesy of Tyrone Events and Promotions

The Tyrone community has a long history of military service and of honoring that service at events like the annual Memorial Day parade (pictured).

Photo courtesy of Tyrone Events and Promotions

Photo courtesy of Tyrone Events and Promotions

The Tyrone community has a long history of military service and of honoring that service at events like the annual Memorial Day parade (pictured).

Hometown Heroes: Recent Tyrone Grads Share Stories of Service

November 10, 2019

When 2015 Tyrone graduate Davina Lee faced the difficult decision of what to do after high school, she was at a crossroads. After considering her options, like many graduates Lee first decided to try the college route. However, she soon realized that college wasn’t the right fit her, so she decided to look into the military.

That decision led to Lee become one of the first women to break a more than 100 year old glass ceiling.

“I heard the Navy was starting to allow women to join the submarine force for the first time in it’s 116 years, so I jumped on the opportunity and became the second woman in U.S. history to enlist as a submarine IT as a first contract,” said Lee. “I wanted to make history and prove that women are just as capable as men.”

I’ve been active duty for almost two and a half years and I don’t regret it one bit. You’ll make friends that turn into your family. Being far from home has its disadvantages but its not too bad. I’ve gotten to do and see a lot of cool stuff thanks to the military”

— Makenzie Stauffer

While she is no longer on active duty, Lee appreciates the experience she had serving her country.  She is proud of the fact that she helped to pave the way for other women in the US Navy.

Lee is now married and her husband is in the Navy. She still lives on a Navy base and spends a lot of time being a “mom” to to other sailors.

“I am so incredibility proud to see them in the fleet now,” said Lee.

Like Lee, many other TAHS graduates have stepped up to serve their country in one of the branches US military.

While Lee decided the Navy would be the best fit for her, many recent TAHS grads are also currently serving in the Marines, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

According to TAHS Guidance Counselor Ms. Sara White, five percent of the TAHS  graduating class of 2019 joined the military. Although that doesn’t seem like a lot, Tyrone has had many of its recent graduates enlist in the military in recent years.

Makenzie Stauffer, class of 2017, is currently serving in the United States Air Force in security forces.

“I’ve been active duty for almost two and a half years and I don’t regret it one bit,” said Stauffer, “You’ll make friends that turn into your family. Being far from home has its disadvantages but its not too bad. I’ve gotten to do and see a lot of cool stuff thanks to the military.”

People join the military for a number of reasons. Some to better themselves, others to follow in their family’s footsteps, and some for the money or college benefits.

Christian Fink, class of 2018, joined the military right out of high school. Fink joined the Army National Guard to help himself grow to who he wanted to become.

“A recruiter reached out to me and I thought it would be a great way to get out of my comfort zone and improve my lifestyle,” said Fink. 

When deciding on which branch of the military to join, it can sometimes be a tough decision. Some have the influence of family members, and others follow their instincts.

Noah Irvin, class of 2019, chose the United States Marine Corps because he knew it would help him become a better person.

“I chose the Marine Corps because I knew that they were the toughest branch and would make me into the man I wanted to become,” said Irvin.

This year, Tyrone has quite a few graduates to celebrate. Each of the men and women below has their own reasons and story. Each story is unique and is important to share.

In honor of Veterans Day, the Eagle Eye asked some recent graduates serving in various branches of the armed forces to share some of their experiences.

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Davina Lee – Navy

Davina Lee accepts certificate for the United States Navy.

Davina Lee accepts certificate for the United States Navy.

Photo Courtesy of Davina Lee.

Davina Lee accepts certificate for the United States Navy.

Photo Courtesy of Davina Lee.

Photo Courtesy of Davina Lee.

Davina Lee accepts certificate for the United States Navy.

Davina Lee – Navy

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Davina Lee: “I enlisted into the Navy on July 12, 2016. I tried the college route, but it wasn’t for me. I heard the Navy was starting to allow women to join the submarine force for the first time in it’s 116 years, so I jumped on the opportunity and became the second woman in U.S. history to enlist as a submarine IT as a first contract. They allowed officers and ‘fleet returnees’ to cross rate, but I was a part of the first group of women to make history and prove that women are just as capable as men.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

DL: “I initially wanted to join the Air Force because of my Grandfather’s past service. I met with recruiters and realized it wasn’t the right fit. My friend Miranda Walsh, also class of 2015, convinced me to talk to a Navy recruiter. That’s when I found out about submarines.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

DL: “I arrived in Chicago right before Christmas of 2016. It was -20 outside with a -40 windchill. Since it was winter in Chicago, most of our time was spent inside getting yelled at and doing push-ups. I met a lot of great people that I’ve maintained friendships with. Honestly, I had a lot of fun. It was difficult and stressful, but it was still fun.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

DL: “I am no longer on active duty, but the experiences I had were some of the best in my life. The command wasn’t used to women, so there was a lot of trial and error in figuring out what to do with us. We helped pave the way for the women that would follow. I got very sick before I could make it to my submarine, so I had to remain on shore duty. Instead of being overcome with disappointment, I decided to become a mentor for the sailors that followed. I spent the rest of my time Active Duty as ‘mom’ to the other sailors and I’m so incredibly proud to see them in the fleet now.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

DL: “If you’re thinking of joining, just go for it. It’s a huge step, but it’s worth it. Take it seriously. It’s easy to get comfortable and allow yourself to slip up, but keep your goals in mind and never stop working toward them.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

DL: “I’m not on active duty anymore, but my goal is to still be a mentor to the sailors. I live in base housing with my husband, so I’m still around active duty sailors on a daily basis. My home is open to those who need support, a friend, a home cooked meal, and somewhere to decompress. This holiday season, I am opening my home to sailors without family nearby to celebrate and eat plenty of food. It’s important to take care of those that serve. Since I am no longer serving my country, I hope to give those serving a home away from home.”

EE: Anything else you’d like to add?

DL: “Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Embrace it. If things don’t turn out the way you want them to, don’t give up. Make the best out of what you have. My time in the Navy was the best in my life. You meet so many incredible people and get to set yourself up for the future. It’s an incredible opportunity. Joining the Navy was the best decision I could have possibly made for myself. Specifically the submarine force. We’re a big dysfunctional family and I wouldn’t trade it for a single thing.”

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Torrie Foy serves our country in the United States Army.

Photo Courtesy of Torrie Foy.

Torrie Foy serves our country in the United States Army.

Torrie Foy – Army

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Torrie Foy: “I decided to join in February of 2019.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

TF: “I chose the Army because my Stepdad and Grandfather are both Veterans of the Army and I wanted to follow in their footsteps while making my family proud.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

 TF: “Before I went to basic training, I was told it was going to be the easiest part of my military career, and they weren’t kidding. My Drill Sergeants told us where to be, when to be there, and what to wear. The environment was a little bit difficult to get used to at first, but once you understand that everyone there comes from different backgrounds and you’re all there to do the same thing it becomes much easier to get through.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

TF: “My favorite part about being active duty is being stationed away from home so I get the experience of being an adult and traveling for free.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

TF: “If you’re thinking of joining the military, I would say don’t even think about it, just do it. I believe everyone should serve at least one contract because it’s an experience like no other, you make so many friends, you get in shape, and you get paid to do it while serving your country. If you don’t have a plan for what you want to do after high school, talk to a recruiter.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do? 

TF: “As of right now, my plan is to do my six-year contract as an Enlisted Supply Specialist, get out for a few years to get a degree, and re-enlist as an officer-enlisted.” 

EE: Anything else you’d like to add?

TF: “People are going to try and scare you out of joining the military, but it’s truly an incomparable experience to anything else you can do.”

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Noah Irvin – Marine Corps

Noah Irvin is officially named a United States Marine after the Crucible.

Noah Irvin is officially named a United States Marine after the Crucible.

Photo Courtesy of Noah Irvin.

Noah Irvin is officially named a United States Marine after the Crucible.

Photo Courtesy of Noah Irvin.

Photo Courtesy of Noah Irvin.

Noah Irvin is officially named a United States Marine after the Crucible.

Noah Irvin – Marine Corps

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Noah Irvin: “The military is something I have always wanted to do.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

NI: “I chose the Marine Corps because I knew that they were the toughest branch and would make me into the man I wanted to become.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

NI:”[My training is] so far so good! I’ve met a lot of really cool guys and done a lot of really cool things! We’ve done a lot of shooting and a lot of hiking.”

EE: What has been the most difficult part of basic training?”

NI: For me, the hardest part is eating MRE’s every day.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

NI: “Do it. It is a great way to start off your adult life and will set you up for success! You will also make tons of life long friends.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

NI: “My goals are to become a Sergeant in my first enlistment. I’m a security guard so I hope to see a lot of cool places.”

EE: Anything else you’d like to add?

NI: “I’m really excited to be doing what I’m doing and I feel that I’m doing what I’m meant to do.”

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Christian Fink (middle) with two friends he met while in the Army National Guard.

Photo courtesy of Christian Fink.

Christian Fink (middle) with two friends he met while in the Army National Guard.

Christian Fink – Army National Guard

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Christian Fink: “I swore into the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in November of 2017. A recruiter reached out to me and I thought it would be a great way to get out of my comfort zone and improve my lifestyle.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

CF: “I joined the Army National Guard because it was a great way to balance a civilian life and go to college and be a member of the military at the same time.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

CF: “Basic training is designed to be difficult. Drill Sergeants are there to transform you into a soldier and they are very good at it. There were a lot of very interesting things we did and learned, but basic training is pretty mentally and physically challenging.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

CF: “I am not in active duty, but I did get the chance to go to Macedonia and train with their military.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

CF: “If you are thinking about joining the military, I suggest you do it. There are so many different jobs in any branch of the military that could be suitable for you. Being in the military gives you many skills that will be useful to you in every day life.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

CF: “I’m currently an Infantryman, but I would like to continue in my career and go to varying schools to advance my knowledge for different aspects of an Infantryman.”

 

 

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Gaige Fink enlists into the U.S. Army.

Photo courtesy of Gaige Fink.

Gaige Fink enlists into the U.S. Army.

Gaige Fink – Army

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Gaige Fink: “I joined the military on December 21st, 2018.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

GF: “I chose the Army because I wanted to better myself and be part of the greatest fighting force in America.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

GF: “I went to Basic Training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina which has unbearable heat in the summer time which is when I was there, most days were over 95° and 100% humidity, there was days that the temperatures hit over 110°. Basic training is 10% physical strength and 90% mental strength. As long as you keep your head up and make good friends, it will fly by.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

GF: “For my job, I haven’t done a whole lot. But there is a lot of sitting around and waiting in the Army so that is something to think about.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

GF: “If you’re looking to join the military, ensure it is the right choice for you. If you are passionate about the armed forces and love your country, then the military life is for you. Of course, there are many other reasons to join the military, like family benefits and college.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

GF: “My future goals are to continue to climb the ranks in the Army and set myself up for success in the future.”

 

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Thomas “Tommy” Hall – Marine Corps

Tommy Hall serves for our country through the United States Marines.

Tommy Hall serves for our country through the United States Marines.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Hall.

Tommy Hall serves for our country through the United States Marines.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Hall.

Photo courtesy of Tommy Hall.

Tommy Hall serves for our country through the United States Marines.

Thomas “Tommy” Hall – Marine Corps

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Thomas Hall: “I joined the military a little over a year ago, in August of 2018. I joined because I wanted to prove to myself that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and wanted to be able to provide for my future family. I also wanted to one up my dad who served in the Navy a long time ago.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

TH: “I joined the Marines because of the family feeling. If you ask any Marine, they will tell you that you don’t join the Marine Corps, you become a part of it. The brotherhood of the Marine Corps really appealed to me.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

 TH: “My basic training experience wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t supposed to be. It was one of the greatest challenges I have had in my life, but looking back, it was all worth it. The things I had to learn and the way they shape you into a more well rounded and better person was my favorite part. They are there to test your boundaries, physically and mentally. I think by doing that, I have learned how much I can handle.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

TH: “My experience has been wild! I have had plenty of ups and downs, but over all, it isn’t too bad. It’s my first year in and I am on my first training experience. I’ve been away from my family for a little over three months now. It’s hard, but I think the distance makes the love grow stronger. The people are what makes it most enjoyable, but we do a lot of physical training and that kind of sucks.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

TH: “Go in strong, make the best of it and always volunteer. Just do your best and try to enjoy it.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do? 

TH: “My future goals are to become at least Sergeant in my first four years and I would really like to become a martial arts instructor in the Marines Corps.”

 

 

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Andrew Bell  Bigelow is a part of the United States Navy.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Bell Bigelow.

Andrew Bell Bigelow is a part of the United States Navy.

Andrew Bell Bigelow – Navy

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Andrew Bell Bigelow: “I joined in July 2017. I joined because I wasn’t happy at the point I was in my life, I had a plan after high school and it failed. So I needed to do something to get back on track.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

AB: “I would like to say I didn’t choose the branch I joined honestly speaking. The Navy recruiter had reached out to me a few months back before I joined and at the point I was at, I remembered and went for it.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

AB: “Basic wasn’t all that bad on what it is made out to be, you become part of the United States Military so it should be harder than anything you’ve yet to encounter in your life. My most vivid memory of basic is the night I got there, lots of yelling and screaming filled the hallway, and as one of the instructors got close to utter some words to me, I could smell cigarette/coffee breathe emerge from his mouth. It was the most foul thing I ever smelled. To this day I can smell the stench.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

AB: “My experience so far has been both good and not so good. It has given me lots of insight, not only on life in general but also about the type of person I want to become, and the type of person I do not want to become. Also has given me many opportunities to do what I want to do and complete goals that I now have.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

AB: “Have a plan, do research, know what career path you want to pursue, and do not let your recruiters push you into a job you don’t want to do. It’s your future make it the way you want it to be, no one else.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

AB: “I finally have the job that I wanted after two years of service. When I first joined I was an Administration Clerk, which I didn’t mind but it wasn’t for me, now I have become a Seabee which is the Naval Construction Force in which I absolutely love. Future goals are to travel across the pond and visit some different countries, and to finish my tour with an honorable discharge.”

 

 

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Makenzie Stauffer – Air Force

Photo courtesy of Makenzie Stauffer

Photo courtesy of Makenzie Stauffer

Photo courtesy of Makenzie Stauffer

Makenzie Stauffer – Air Force

Eagle Eye: When and why did you decide to join the military?

Makenzie Stauffer: “I always wanted to be in the military but wasn’t sure if I wanted to enlist or commission. It wasn’t until my senior year when I decided to just jump all in and enlist and leave that summer.”

EE: Why did you choose the branch of the military you are in?

MS: “Most of my family was Army, and told me to go Air Force instead. After doing research, talking to recruiters, and taking the ASVAB, I decided to go Air Force.”

EE: Tell us a little bit about your basic training experience.

MS: “It was a crazy eight and a half weeks. Most of it runs together. Wake up, do PT, inhale your food, and do what you’re told. You make some of the closest friends and meet people from all different walks of life.”

EE: If you are in active duty, what is your experience so far?

MS: “I’ve been active duty for almost two and a half years and I don’t regret it one bit. You’ll make friends that turn into your family. Being far from home has its disadvantages but its not too bad. I’ve gotten to do and see a lot of cool stuff thanks to the military.”

EE: What advice would you give for students thinking of joining the military?

MS: “Recruiters will tell you everything you want to hear. My advice is talking to someone from the branch you are thinking about joining and pick their brain.”

EE: What are your future goals? What specific job in your branch do you hope to do?

MS: “Right now I’m security forces. I’m almost done with my associates in criminal justice and I’m working on my bachelor’s in healthcare administration. When I’m finished with my AD contract, I plan on getting my masters in healthcare administration or a bachelors in nursing. I hope to commission into the healthcare field when I get my bachelors.”

 

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About the Contributors
Photo of Lindsey Walk
Lindsey Walk, News Editor

Hello there! My name is Lindsey Walk and I am a senior this year at TAHS. This is my second year being involved in Eagle Eye and I am so excited to be...

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Hometown Heroes: Recent Tyrone Grads Share Stories of Service”

  1. Marlene (Diehl) Sunderland (class of '76) on November 11th, 2019 4:21 pm

    Thank you to each & every ine of you fine young people for your service! God bless you all.

  2. Ron Miller on November 11th, 2019 11:18 pm

    I thought the recent article on Veterans Day was really good. Davina Lee is my great niece, the granddaughter of my brother Bill Miller who served in the Army during the Vietnam era. I’m from the class of 78, and I too joined the military (USAF) and retired with 20 years of service. Those 20 years were some of the best times of my life, from Desert Shield to Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to my retirement in 2004. I recommend an enlistment to anyone, if it wasn’t for the Air Force I wouldn’t have got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Now I serve my country as a Defense Contractor doing the same job that I love so much. Again thank you for this article.

  3. Eagle Eye on November 12th, 2019 7:39 am

    Thank you for your service!

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