Class of 2014: At West Point, he’ll learn to be a leader

MUKILTEO — Michael Wanner faced a dilemma. Whichever way he went, he couldn’t go wrong. His choices were Annapolis or West Point.

The Kamiak High School graduate’s father was in the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Florida, a Trident submarine. The teen’s grandfathers were both in the Army. His grandmother on his mom’s side was an Army nurse.

And Wanner, 18, has been involved for two years with the Navy Sea Cadet Corps at Naval Station Everett.

“They razzed me a little bit about choosing the Army,” he said.

On July 2, Wanner will report for cadet basic training at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

With a recommendation from 2nd District U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Wanner was accepted to two military academies. Both have acceptance rates lower than 10 percent. “Originally, I was pretty set on the Naval Academy,” he said. Wanner was swayed by his visit to West Point, “just the vibe,” he said.

The Navy has its ships, and the Air Force its planes. “The Army is about people, being a leader of people,” he said.

The Army-bound teen is a talented musician and athlete. He was the Kamiak orchestra’s principal bassist and a member of the school’s cross country team.

He enjoyed humanities classes — history and English — and earned a 3.7 grade point average. His favorite Kamiak teacher is Bill Costello, who taught him in English class and coached him in track and cross country.

His Sea Cadet experience, every other weekend the past two years, “made me sure I want to be in the military,” he said.

Wanner isn’t certain he will pursue a full career in the Army but said it’s a strong possibility. He has time to decide. Upon graduation from West Point, he’ll be a commissioned officer. He said he will owe the Army five years of active duty and three years in the reserves.

Wanner is fit and ready for cadet basic training, which is similar to Army boot camp. Training ends with a 12-mile march from Camp Buckner back to West Point, where he will see his parents, Kurt and Ann Wanner, for the first time in six weeks.

For Wanner, that march will be just the beginning.

Stories on the Class of 2014

Justin Cho, Jackson: A slow, grueling comeback from sudden illness

Jasmin Edwards, Lynnwood: She excelled in the classroom and on the court

Micaela Powell, Everett: After transplant, she has a new heart and new horizons

Josh and Zach Rodriguez, Arlington: Twins will head down separate paths

Josh Sharpe, Snohomish: Under the burden of loss, he carried on

Santana Shopbell, Tulalip Heritage: She set a goal — and an example for others

Michael Wanner, Kamiak: At West Point, he’ll learn to be a leader

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