Opening doors: Students are invited to learn about military opportunities

April, 2016 Posted in People
Pfc. Joshua Dol and Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Larry Etzel after Dol’s Army BMT program graduation.

Pfc. Joshua Dol and Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Larry Etzel after Dol’s Army BMT program graduation.

By Mary Owen

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Larry Etzel knew nothing about the ROTC program until he started college, but he wants to make sure other students are informed

“After high school, I went to Oregon State University and joined as a freshman,” said Etzel, who put together a program to introduce students to military careers through the Regis ASPIRE program. “My last three years at college were paid for in full through the Air Force ROTC program.”

After he was commissioned, Etzel was selected to attend AF undergraduate pilot training and flew C-141 cargo planes all around the world while on active duty and with the AF Reserve.

“I complete my 30-year AF career in 2005,” he said. “They were the best years of my life.”

Now Etzel’s goal is to give high school students the same opportunities that he had.

“For those students with the drive and determination to seek out these opportunities, the possibilities are endless,” he said.

Etzel will share with students attending the RHS ASPIRE program, “Military Opportunities after High School,” Wednesday, April 13, 7 p.m. in the Regis student center.

“Larry started this program during the fall term of 2014,” said Mike Bauer, RHS counselor and ASPIRE coordinator. “The program is now offered in the fall and spring term of each school year. Larry is someone who had a tremendous experience with the military, and he very articulately shares that story.”

Recently, Etzel attended Family Day at Ft. Sill Army Post in Lawton, Okla. to see Pfc. Joshua Dol graduate. Dol was a 2013 Regis graduate.

“What a difference 10-weeks can make!” Etzel said. “This is why I’m a part of the ASPIRE program, to witness moments like this.”

Etzel was introduced to Dol in 2010 when he and his parents moved into the Sublimity area. Mark and Patricia Dol are Catholic missionaries and came to the U.S. on workers visas, he said.

“I can still remember Josh telling me as a high school freshman how he wanted to become an Air Force pilot,” Etzel said. “For him to become a military officer and ultimately an AF pilot, he first had to get his citizenship – quickly.”

About a year ago, Dol enlisted in the Oregon Army National Guard to get his citizenship expedited.

“He began his Army basic training in January, became a U.S. citizen on March 16, and graduated on March 17 from the Army BMT program,” said Etzel of Dol’s time line for his military career to date. “He will spend the next three months continuing his training in San Antonio, Texas to become an Army medic.”

Dol will attend Oregon State University in the fall to continue working toward a degree in mechanical engineering, Etzel said.

“And now that he’s a U.S. citizen, he will enter the AF ROTC program,” he added. “His goal is to receive his engineering degree and his AF commission in late 2018/early 2019. The impossible has now become possible. We just needed to find the right door to go through.”

Dol is one of about three Regis students who choose a military career option every year.

“Recently, we have had our share of ROTC candidates, and over the years several who have attended the military academies,” Bauer said. “We had also had a student or two who has risen to be generals, the most recent, Julie Bentz.”

At the Military Opportunities program, three speakers will cover the main options available for students to become military officers: military academies; the ROTC program; and the Guard and Reserve programs. Topics include: admission requirements, time lines for admission into the difference programs, and financial aid to cover college costs.

“This is an information sharing, not a recruiting event,” Bauer said. “After the formal part of the program, there will be an opportunity for questions, followed by an opportunity to talk one-on-one with the presenters. Several cadets from the ROTC programs at Oregon State will be there to share what student life is like as a cadet. A member from the local Army recruiting will also be available for anyone who may be looking to directly enlist after high school.”

Parents are also encouraged to attend, Bauer said.

“For any students looking to continue their education after high school, each of the service branches offer scholarships through the ROTC programs, which commission officers for full-time active duty military service, or an all-expenses-paid education for any selected to attend a military academy,” Etzel said.

“The National Guard and Reserve programs also offer opportunities somewhat different from the programs offered through active duty, yet still designed to help students minimize their college expenses. I like to tell students that an individual’s program can be built to accommodate their unique circumstances, as in Josh Dol’s case.”

For more information on the free public event, contact Bauer at 503-769-2159 or Etzel at 503-302-7320.

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