SYCAMORE – Recent Sycamore High School graduate Logan Nelson says he knew a long time ago that he wanted to serve in the military.
His parents both served in the Marines. His mom, Lisa, worked in military intelligence and still speaks Russian.
“She didn’t speak too much Russian when I was growing up,” said Nelson, 18. “I can read Cyrillic, so I know the funny letters; Ukrainian is a bit different.”
His dad worked in radio battalion, knew Morse code and served in Operation Desert Storm.
Saturday, Nelson heads to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. He’s part of a record group of 13 students in U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren’s 14th District to receive commendations to attend service academies.
Criteria for acceptance into the academies includes academics, character, leadership, physical aptitude and motivation.
Nelson’s motivation became clearer over time.
“At a young age, I decided I wanted to go into the military, and over time the reasons evolved a little bit,” Nelson said. “At this point, I feel I owe my country a debt, that I have to serve.”
He’ll report Tuesday for a three-week indoctrination, a sort of mini-Merchant Marine boot camp. He’ll be allowed a phone call once a week and can receive letters, but otherwise will be cut off from family until a parents night in August.
“I’m a pretty stoic person,” Nelson said. “I don’t show my emotions too much, but it’s been starting to get to me lately, that I’m leaving home.”
Nelson said you need at least a 29 on the ACT to be selected, and that he scored a 31, then a 32, and just for good measure, a 34.
“I was going to stop at 32,” he said. “The third one was the one the school gave out to everybody, so I just took it again.”
Nelson attended Sycamore schools since the family moved to town for his second-grade year, and served in Boy Scouts throughout middle and high school. He also played football for a year and served as the high school mascot for two years.
He co-founded the Political Youth Involvement Group – “We call it the Pig,” he said – during his junior year, along with classmates Levi Moltz-Hohmann and Radley Altergott.
The group keyed heavily on national news but also addressed state issues and even such local topics as elections and some ordinances.
After his four years in the academy, he plans to fulfill his five-year active-duty service obligation in a branch of his choosing. He plans to get his degree in nuclear engineering, and is considering two paths down the road: working for a power plant or a nuclear research group, or career military.
Well-versed in current events, he’s well aware of what the latter could entail.
“With the way the world is going, I’m pretty sure I’ll see some live combat,” Nelson said.