While most high school students enter college upon graduating, however, Forest City High School graduate Jacob Buffington has decided enter the military.
Buffington said he enlisted as a UH-60 Black Hawk maintainer crew chief in the Army July 2017 and will be going into basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, after he graduates.
“I wanted to do something different from my peers, something challenging, unique, I suppose,” he said.
Buffington plans to go to air assault school and go to the selection for 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), he said.
“I’d also like to go to airborne school if I can,” he said.
He plans to be in the Army for 20 years and then retire. He currently is contracted for six years of service. Buffington said he hopes to get that renewed and reenlist at the end of the term.
To prepare for this next step in his life, Buffington had to go to future soldier training after he enlisted once a week at the Army recruiting station in Mason City.
Buffington said high school prepared him for this next step by teaching him about discipline and respecting teachers and people above him.
“In the military, there’s going to be a lot of people above me, of course, and they’ve taught me to respect those people and treat them fairly,” he said.
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Buffington said he was pretty excited to leave and take this next step in his life.
“I’ve been waiting almost a year to leave,” he said. “A lot of sitting around. Because I’m not really planning to go to college right away, of course.”
Buffington will leave July 8 and fly out to South Carolina, spend a week in reception, in which he’ll get all the necessary shots and complete paperwork, then move to his training unit and have a set of instructors for 10 weeks. Then he’ll drive out to Fort Eustis, Virginia, where he’ll have another set of drill instructors for 27 weeks.
In preparation, Buffington only took band his senior year, filling the rest of his schedule with law enforcement classes from Waldorf University.
Buffington said his family was surprised upon hearing his decision, especially since he hadn’t talked about it much until he was 17 and was able to enlist.
“I think they were kind of concerned at first, like something might have happened, but they didn’t understand that there are noncombat jobs in the military,” he said.
Buffington said his family wasn’t very supportive initially upon hearing his decision, but most of them are now very supportive.
“It took a while for some of my family members to warm up to it, and of course there’s a few that are not fans about it still, which is all right; they have their opinions,” he said. “…I’m kind of the first one in my family to ever really go into the military – my uncles didn’t; my parents didn’t at all – so it’s just something they didn’t know about.”