Austin Federici, left, and Declan McCarthy both accepted appointments in 2019 to U.S. military academies in a highly competitive process that requires a nomination from a member of Congress.

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Two students at Wausau West High School have accepted appointments to military service academies after a highly competitive process that requires a nomination from a member of the U.S. Congress.

On July 1, Austin Federici will head to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York. Declan McCarthy will join the U.S. Air Force Academy and will enter basic cadet training June 27 in Colorado Springs. Both students were nominated by Rep. Sean Duffy.

McCarthy said he was torn between the Air Force Academy and Naval Academy, but a summer seminar at the USAF Academy convinced him to pursue the appointment he ultimately received.

“I’ve been interested in military service for a long time now and I have a pretty rich family history with service, spanning across nearly every branch,” said McCarthy, whose uncle attended the Naval Academy. “I first got interested in service academies in about 8th grade when I saw a promotional video for West Point. That then prompted me to attend the local Academy Day hosted by Sean Duffy during my freshman year and my interest really started to pick up after that. I knew that it would be a great way to continue my academic career after high school, become a better leader and serve a cause higher than myself.”

Federici said he has wanted to serve in the armed forces, specifically the Army, for as long as he can remember.

“The Academies, specifically West Point,  were first introduced to me by the father of one of my best friends, who happens to be a West Point grad himself, and I instantly fell in love,” Federici said. “I can distinctly remember that moment in 7th grade where I knew. This is where I want to go and this is what I want to do.”

Both students say they envision a future career in aviation. Federici’s long-term goal at this point is to fly helicopters. McCarthy said his goal is to become a pilot flying F-16s, though intelligence also interests him.

I don’t necessarily have a specific path in stone yet,” McCarthy said. “It’s sure to be an incredibly challenging journey but I’m quite excited for it and the countless opportunities to come.”

Attendance at the academies includes free education as well as room and board. Appointments come with an obligation and commitment to serve in the U.S. military for a minimum of 5 years upon graduation. The application process can be daunting, including interviews with a selection panel, essay submissions, and other steps. Now, both students will focus on finishing their senior year of high school, getting adjusted to early mornings and late nights, and getting into the best physical shape possible before their lives change dramatically.

“I’m very grateful for everything that I’ve been able to achieve thus far and certainly could not have done it without the help of countless others in my life,” McCarthy said.

Top image: Austin Federici and Declan McCarthy. Used by permission.