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Alex Koenig's grandfather

The Packer Weekly: Grandpa inspires Koenig’s future

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As the year comes to a close, 2014 seniors are putting off assignments, counting down the days to graduation and looking forward to their college years where they get the chance to mature and learn to live on their own.

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For the most part, this schedule is true for senior Alex Koenig, except he is not going to college, he is joining the U.S. Navy.

“It was something that I wanted to do as a kid, but then as I got older I switched out of it, but then I realized that I was not ready for college at all at this point in my life. [So,] I figured the military would be a great experience,” Koenig said.

As a kid, Koenig loved the idealogical ideas about the Navy, such as marching and saluting everyone. But as he grew older, he knew that he had a deep sense of patriotism that he wanted to act on.

One of the biggest reasons for joining the U.S. Navy was in part due to his grandpa, who served.

Koenig was initially hesitant about his decision. He felt more comfortable after talking to Petty Officer First Class Jared Anderson, his recruitment officer.

“No one really knows about the Navy and what we really do because we’re in the middle of the country unlike people in San Diego or Norfolk,” Anderson said. “The unknown is kind of scary to people no matter what it is.”

Koenig was put at ease once he learned that talking to a recruitment officer did not mean he was obligated to enlist.

That meeting, is only a question-and-answer session about the Navy.

“By coming into the office you are only exploring your options and possibly finding something that you might be interested in,” Anderson said. “And if it’s something you’re not interested in at all, your loss was 30 minutes of your time.”

After meeting with Koenig, Anderson realized he was exactly the type of person the Navy looks for. Anderson had to find someone he would work with on the fleet in the future and who will eventually take his place.

“I need to know that I put someone in that I can trust and I know would be there for me if there were an emergency or bad situation,” Anderson said. “I felt that trust in Alex when we first sat down and talked.”

Koenig is comfortable enlisting in the Navy because of the benefits once his deployment is done. The Navy will pay for the equivalent of four years of college. He will also earn a “housing allowance” based off the cost of living at his future school. But one of the main benefits for Koenig is to travel around the world on water.

“I’ve always loved ships and the sea and the coast and being on water,” Koenig said. “I’m really looking forward to traveling the world and getting paid for it.”

While the benefits may be great, Koenig knows that the Navy is not a joke and he knows exactly what he wants to get out of his time in service.

“I hope to become more disciplined with myself,” Koenig said. “I’m really looking forward to the honor of it. Just saying that I’m a United States sailor in and of itself is a pretty big accomplishment.”

The day that Koenig visited Anderson, he was accompanied by senior Haley Elsner. While she was not eligible to enlist, she has high hopes for Koenig because of his strong will and passion for the Navy.

Elsner’s feelings are shared by Anderson.

“[Koenig] is a very bright young man,” Anderson said. “He shows the pride and professionalism that makes an excellent sailor. He has the opportunity to go very far with the decision that he has made. It takes someone with honor, courage, and commitment to serve in the world’s greatest Navy.”

Despite his questions being answered, Koenig still does not know what to expect from his future in the Navy. Currently he will be a medical corpsman and will likely be stationed at a naval hospital. This may change at any time though, and Koenig is ready for whatever the Navy wants from him.

“That’s the thing is that you’ll never know where you’re going to be,” Koenig said. “That’s one of the biggest things that I love about the Navy. I don’t know where I’ll be going, but I know that I’ll be serving and doing something good for people.”

(The Packer Weekly is an ongoing column authored by journalism students at West Fargo High School with the intent of providing awareness about and insight into a variety of school-related topics and activities. For additional information, visit www.westfargopacker.org.)

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