West Point grad Natter prepares for what’s next in the United States Army
Angelo Natter has always been drawn to serving his country.
For the last five years, he’s trained for just that opportunity as a student at The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a prestigious program that prepares cadets to serve as leaders and go on to become officers in the United States Army.
After graduating from West Point at the end of May, Natter, 24, is ready for what’s next, even embracing the possibility that he will be deployed.
“(I’ve) just always felt that kind of bond between me and my country,” he said.
Natter, who grew up in Jefferson Hills, described himself as a “relentless motor” on the football field, where he played defensive end, tight end and fullback in high school. He attended Thomas Jefferson for two years, then moved to Central Catholic for his junior and senior years.
He was getting recruited by D1 schools, he said, when West Point entered the picture, recruiting him to play football.
“I was like, ‘Oh, if they’re actually recruiting me, and I can go there, I would love that,” said Natter, who now resides in North Versailles.
It was a fitting next step for him, as Central Catholic’s motto is Pro Deo et Patria, which, in Latin means, “For God and Country.”
Natter spent his first year at West Point’s preparatory school, where he played football. He then went on to the academy and continued playing.
However, going into his sophomore year, he made the decision to give up football and focus on academics, knowing he wasn’t headed to the NFL, and the game was just for fun at this point.
“It was definitely a hard, hard choice,” he said. “I’d been playing it forever.”
At West Point, Natter majored in engineering management, a system’s engineering degree, with a focus in environmental engineering.
He didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do with his career at first, only knowing that he was required to serve as an officer in the Army for five years after graduation.
“I always had this calling to just help people and just make myself available to other people, to just make them happy or to do anything to better them,” he said.
In every role he’s held in life, from new student at Central Catholic to various posts at West Point, Natter has always tried to be the one who’s there for others.
He credits his dad, Gary, his “biggest role model,” for instilling that mentality in him. His brother, Bruno, and grandma Barbara, along with his dad, have been his biggest support system through it all.
West Point was far from a traditional college experience.
Natter’s days were structured and repetitive. Most weekends were filled with military training. Sundays were the one day he could finally sleep in, so that’s what he did.
Summers were filled with more classes and training.
Natter graduated in May with a bachelor’s of science and now ranks as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
He had a short leave, when he came home to the Pittsburgh area, and even grew out his beard, something he never could do at West Point.
In early July, he headed to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for officer specific training, tackling the Engineering Basic Leadership Officer Course, where he will be for 19 1⁄2 weeks.
After completing the training, he’s headed to Fort Bragg in North Carolina to be part of the 82nd Airborne Division, where he’ll be attached to an infantry brigade as an engineer.
At West Point, Natter attended airborne schools and already is qualified to “jump out of perfectly good airplanes,” he said with a chuckle.
To get the placement he wanted, Natter agreed to serve six additional years in the Army, meaning he has 11 years to go.
As an engineer, he’ll work on route clearance, demolition, controlled explosives and “all these kinds of things to help out infantryman, to clear the way for them to conduct their missions,” he said.
He will be stationed out of Fort Bragg for at least three years. By the time he leaves, he will be a first lieutenant.
However, the brigade he’s scheduled to be linked with at Fort Bragg just deployed to Afghanistan at the beginning of July. That means he could be headed to meet up with them when he leaves Fort Leonard Wood in 19½ weeks. He doesn’t know yet.
Talking about being deployed, Natter doesn’t seem nervous at all.
He talks about his trainings and how they’ve prepared him.
“Like, we’ve been practicing, now when’s the game coming?” he said.
For grandma Barbara Natter, the thought of him being deployed is hard.
“I talked to him, and he said he’s ready,” she said. “I know that whatever happens, he will do a good job. He will be a good leader.”
Watching Angelo progress through West Point was a sense of pride for his family.
Dad Gary credits Central Catholic and football coach Terry Totten with making it all happen.
“Angelo is hard-working, but he’s a lot of fun,” Barbara Natter said, talking about the kind gestures her grandson has done for her, like taking her to the movies and to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
“He will have friends all over the world,” she said.