Gloucester Catholic trio bound for West Point

Athletes Brandon Wethman, Nick Marks (left), and Devin McCall (right) plan to attend West Point. CLEM MURRAY / Staff
Athletes Brandon Wethman, Nick Marks (left), and Devin McCall (right) plan to attend West Point. CLEM MURRAY / Staff
Posted: June 01, 2013

Last summer, Gloucester Catholic senior Brandon Wethman stood in a mulch pit and knew he was where he wanted to be.

Wethman, one of three soon-to-be Gloucester Catholic grads heading to the U.S. Military Academy, was in combative training at West Point's Summer Leaders Seminar. Suddenly, he couldn't hear any words. All he heard was an increasingly loud buzzing.

As Wethman and the other high school students stood confused, a pair of Chinook helicopters landed right next to them and picked up two squads of sophomore cadets. In 30 seconds, the cadets were gone.

Wethman had long wanted to attend West Point - but at that moment, he realized why.

"It was absolutely amazing," Wethman said. "That was something that made me realize what an amazing journey it's going to be."

Wethman, Nick Marks, and Devin McCall represent the first time Gloucester Catholic will send three students to West Point. All took different paths to deciding they wanted to attend the service academy, but they have had similar experiences to influence their decisions.

Marks recalled two Black Hawk helicopters dropping students off during his official visit without any reaction from those around him.

McCall watched Secret Service agents precede the entrance of Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.

"That doesn't happen very often, and we were very lucky to see that," McCall said. "It was very, very impressive, and so routine."

Marks, McCall, and Wethman attended St. Margaret's grade school. Marks and McCall were standout swimmers in high school and will continue to swim at West Point, and Wethman, despite his 5-foot-8, 165-pound frame, played nose tackle for Gloucester Catholic's football team. All three were captains on their respective teams.

"Being a captain means you have to lead by example," Wethman said. "You have to remember that West Point's goal is to make commissioned leaders and officers in the United States Army.

"When you're a captain, not only are you going to be disciplined by your coaches, you need to learn how to discipline and lead others."

Despite having similar backgrounds, the three made independent decisions to attend West Point.

Many people knew of Wethman's intentions. His middle-school yearbook stated his desire to attend the U.S. Military Academy.

Wethman has a list of extracurricular activities ranging from athletics to being president of the National Honor Society and history club to being the first sergeant of the Gloucester County composite squadron of civil air patrol, along with much more.

Almost all of it was in preparation for West Point.

"I was forced to make sure I put everything into everything to squeeze every ounce of goodness into my resumé," Wethman said. "It came down to the very end to make sure I could get as much as I could."

Marks and McCall, who have been friends since preschool, thought they would end up at different schools other than the service academy.

Marks, like McCall and Wethman, had an uncle who served in the military. He knew he wanted to enter the armed forces, but was certain he was headed to the Air Force before Army's swim coach persuaded him to take a visit. Before he returned home, he committed to the Army.

"I actually like how honorable and strict it is," Marks said. "I've always liked helping people. Growing up in the United States, we have so much. Whenever you look outside the country, it's constant turmoil. I want to do something to help them."

McCall, who also had a grandfather who served in World War II, was attracted to the Army's reach and impact, too, and chose the academy over the Coast Guard.

"Just the opportunity given to enter into something bigger than myself intrigued me," McCall said. "I realized there are more opportunities, and it's something greater with the Army."


Contact Nick Carroll at ncarroll@phillynews.com.

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