Franklin Regional's Class of 2014 sends several into military

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

For Jack Bradley, it was a glimpse of his father's Army uniform from Vietnam. For Zachary Fleischauer, it's a family tradition. For Kara Haskins, it never felt like there was another choice.

“It's all a brotherhood,” said Haskins, 18, of Murrysville. “We might be in different branches, we might make fun of each other, but we're a brotherhood.”

Along with four other classmates, Bradley, Fleischauer and Haskins will join that brotherhood this summer. Seven members of the Franklin Regional class of 2014 have enlisted in the military, the most since 2009.

Haskins, Bradley and Mitch Wagner will head to the Marines. Fleischauer already serves as a private, first class, Army reservist. Natalie Tedesco and Sean Nolan also will enter the Army, and Connor Wolff will join the Army ROTC program at Penn State University.

An eighth senior, Anthony Lynch, is in the process of enlisting in the Air Force.

The teens said they have similar reasons for joining the military – namely, the pride of belonging and the order and structure of the military lifestyle.

“It's about a loyalty to our country,” said Wolff, 18, of Murrysville. Unlike the others, he will study engineering full-time at Penn State next year while receiving his military training.

That's a sentiment that high school principal Ron Suvak said he believes students throughout the region understand well.

“I am honored to have worked with these seven individuals over the years and very humbled that they have chosen to make a commitment to defend our freedom,” Suvak said. “There is a community and district-wide focus on citizenship that takes root in all of our students.”

The teens joke and offer fist bumps with one another as their final days at FR wind down. They're ready to move on and build upon the military family they're already established bonds with.

While their classmates are scattering to colleges throughout the region, this group scatters internationally. Fleischauer is off to Italy, he hopes. Haskins and Bradley quip that they will be at “Parris Island University,” a reference to the Marines South Carolina training depot. They will be at the same base, starting basic training just weeks apart, but the pair won't see each other for months. Men and women don't intermingle during training.

These students have big dreams.

Haskins is considering pursuing a career in the FBI. Fleischauer — who wants to work for the Pentagon — is considering a career in counterintelligence. Wagner hopes to work in presidential security, though he isn't sure if he wants a military career, like some of his classmates.

“I've wanted to go military all of my life. It's about personal growth,” Wagner said. “The Marines sounded like fun. They're the bad-ass ones.”

There's nothing special about the class of 2014 that has drawn this group to enlist, they said. But in some ways, it's a continuation of how this group has acted for years.

“We're really strong together,” Bradley said. “We will protect each other, keep each other safe. When I look at the military, it's what we've been doing our whole lives, but now we'll get paid for it.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627.

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