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Memorial Day salute to five BHS seniors going from graduation to boot camp

Burnet graduates headed to military

FROM LEFT: Bradyn McPherson, Abigail Vella, Alex Brandt, Dylan Orrison, and Josh Orrison. Courtesy photos

Five Burnet High School seniors have found the perfect way to salute the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, which will be officially commemorated on September 2, 2020. By then, these graduates will be active members of the military.

Bradyn McPherson, Abigail Vella, Alex Brandt, and twins Dylan and Josh Orrison all enlisted in different branches of the military through Delayed Entry or Future Soldiers programs. DEP enlistees are encouraged to attend meetings and classes at local recruiting offices while still in high school. Each is given a specific time and date to show up for active duty after graduation.

Bradyn McPherson, the son of Shannon and Kyle Heine, leaves June 15 for Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the U.S. Army’s main production center for basic combat training. He starts his six-year contract with the Army with nine weeks of basics.

A member of the Burnet football team, McPherson chose the Army because he enjoys fixing things, a skill he learned working with his father on family vehicles.

The brotherhood he enjoyed as a Burnet Bulldog played a part in his decision to enlist as well.

“Being in the Army and having that brotherhood is something you never lose,” he said.

Like her father, Abigail Vella joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Her goal is to work with bomb-sniffing dogs and the military police. She, too, values military fraternity.

“They’re a brotherhood,” she said. “I’ve not known any other branch to be like that.”

Vella heads to Parris Island, South Carolina, on July 30 for basic training. Through the Delayed Entry Program, she has been working with the U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Substation in Georgetown since May 2019.

“They do a boot camp and give us a plan for that week,” she said. “I want to better myself and see what I’m capable of.” 

Vella plans to work a 20-year stint in the Marines.

Alex Brandt joined the Army to become a combat engineer because, he said, “the Army gives you a job based on your interests.”

He reports to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, on July 7 after signing a contract for three years and 16 weeks.

The sons of Tracy and Scott Orrison, twins Dylan and Josh both enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Dad is an Army veteran.

“Dad always helped us with the idea of the military,” Josh said. “When we were children, he sent us to flight school and helped us get qualified.”

Dylan, who plans a 20-year career, joined the Navy to fly.

As a boy, he dreamed of being a pilot after hearing a family friend talk about his adventures in the air. Once in the cockpit himself, he was hooked.

“It’s total freedom in the air,” he said. “I’ve always craved that feeling ever since. Later in life, I want to be a commercial pilot.”

Josh entered the Navy’s prestigious nuclear program.

“I want to be a nuclear technician working on nuclear reactors on aircraft,” he said.

Dylan summed up the feelings of the entire group when they were asked about the ultimate reason they joined the military. Each agreed on the importance of protecting this country.

“I’ll be able to help in a way and give back to America,” Dylan said. “We’ve been given an amazing opportunity to live in this country.”