A Long Beach student who has his sights set on attending the U.S. Naval Academy is demonstrating his aptitude with youth military activities.
He is Jack Haldeman, who holds the highest rank of Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
His parents, Jen Reinmuth-Birch and Norm Birch, homeschool him through the Oregon Charter Academy. He is about to begin his senior year, going in with a grade-point average of 4.3.
He enjoys dual Washington-Oregon residency, spending half of the year in Portland training six days a week with the Rose City Rowing Cub, especially enjoying being part of 8- and 4-man crews.
The family, including his twin brother, Mike, were featured in the Chinook Observer in March 2019 when they refurbished a surplus Naselle school bus into a traveling classroom. They spent last summer traveling the Western states in the white-colored, custom-fitted bus that they named “Hope.”
This summer’s itinerary was to have included battlefields and other historical sites related to Haldeman’s interest in military history, but travel was curtailed by coronavirus restrictions.
So, too, was the in-person summer session at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, which Haldeman completed online. He previously attended a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) camp on campus and has passed preliminary hurdles to become an official candidate to enroll at the academy on graduation.
He has completed operational training at Camp Rilea in Warrenton and flight training at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida. He was selected with a couple of other Sea Cadet to help crew a sailing ship off the coast of Southern California a couple of years ago.
Haldeman said his interest began about five years ago. He had been a Cub Scout and sought another active-outdoors program. He linked up with a Longview Sea Cadets program.
“It wasn’t a goal at the beginning,” he said. “But, about eight months into the program, I met with a chief from another unit in Seattle and decided that I wanted to do this.”
If the academy acceptance and studies go well, he is keeping his career options open. “I have not set my eyes on any particular community in the Navy,” he said, noting that surface warfare, the submarine service or becoming a U.S. Marine Corps artillery officer are among possible paths.
“I like the idea of being able to do something for a greater cause and getting to work with a bunch of like-minded individuals,” he said.
Longer term, he hopes to earn a Ph.D. — and is hoping his military service will offer opportunities to pay for that additional credential.
Haldeman was just awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Youth Award, the highest honor bestowed on a youth by the U.S. Navy League. The medal is presented annually by the Navy League for “Outstanding Performance of Duty” by a youth who exemplifies the 26th president’s values of energy, spirit, competition and fair play.
“We are so very proud of him and all of his endeavors,” said his mother, Jen Reinmuth-Birch.