High school graduates: A salute to military enlistees

Woodland High School has more than a dozen graduates who are planning to serve in the armed forces

WOODLAND — Today, ClarkCountyToday.com salutes all high school graduates who have decided to enlist in the armed forces.

This year’s salute comes in the form of a quick talk with a dozen students from Woodland High School who will be leaving Clark County soon to serve our country.

Christian Yager (Army), Jesse Potter (Marines), James Porter (Marines), Hunter Thomas (Army), Alexander Wakefield (Air Force), Evan Ailinger (Air Force), Bryce Graham (Navy), Ethan Bush (Air Force), and Kim Hicks (Army) will graduate from Woodland High School tonight then head to the military in the coming weeks. Photo by Paul Valencia
Christian Yager (Army), Jesse Potter (Marines), James Porter (Marines), Hunter Thomas (Army), Alexander Wakefield (Air Force), Evan Ailinger (Air Force), Bryce Graham (Navy), Ethan Bush (Air Force), and Kim Hicks (Army) will graduate from Woodland High School tonight then head to the military in the coming weeks. Photo by Paul Valencia

Woodland seniors will walk at graduation tonight (June 7), and in the coming weeks, many of them will depart for basic training and then to all parts of the world.

There are even more at Woodland who will be serving. There are dozens more throughout Southwest Washington who have decided to go from high school to the armed forces. Again, this is not meant to be a list of all, but rather a representation, a chance to highlight some from Woodland while saluting all in the region who have taken an oath.

Jesse Potter

U.S. Marines Corps

Logistics and management

Potter said he contemplated many times between the Army and the Navy and figured the Marines had the best of both worlds. He also loves the reputation of the Marines Corps. He had a grandfather who was in the Marines.

“The Marines Corps treated my grandfather right,” Potter said.

He departs Aug. 19.

“Someone’s gotta do it,” he said. “Some people don’t have the stomach for it. Someone’s gotta do it.”

Kim Hicks

U.S. Army

Wheeled vehicle mechanic

“I have family who have been in the Army. I figured I’d follow in their footsteps,” Hicks said.

She departs June 24.

“I want to serve my country and get my life together,” she said.

James Porter

U.S. Marines

Motor T mechanic

“I’ve always wanted to be a Marine since I was a little kid,” Porter said. “I want to be a member of the best.”

He departs Oct. 16

“Everyone in my family has been in the military. I want to carry on that legacy and help keep everybody free.”

Kenyon Guy

U.S. Navy

Law enforcement

The Navy calls the title masters of arms, while many outside of the service would think of it as military police.

“It gives me the opportunity to travel the world,” said Guy, who does not have a depart date just yet.

He added he wants to be a positive role model for his family and for Woodland.

Hunter Thomas

U.S. Army

M1 Abrams crew

For those non-military people, that would be a crew member of a tank.

“My uncle used to own one. I like being around them,” Thomas said. “I’ve always been interested in driving tanks.”

He leaves Aug. 6.

“I’ve always wanted to serve my country. I enjoy helping others and giving people hope.”

Wyatt Shirley

U.S. Marines Corps


Why infantry?

“I wanted to be a bad—,” he said.

He said serving the country is exciting, but it is hard to explain all of his feelings for serving.

Alex Wakefield

U.S. Air Force

Aerial electrician

“The Air Force is all about education,” said Wakefield, who expects to have his associate’s degree by the time he has completed tech school with the Air Force.

He departs Aug. 6.

His father and uncles served in the military, plus he was drawn by the benefits.

“If I can do something good for my country and at the same time get benefits … it’s a dream combination.”

Christian Yager

U.S. Army

Airborne Ranger

Yager said he tested high enough to have his choice of military occupation specialty. Becoming a Ranger is tops on his list.

“I’m athletic, and I know what it takes to be on a team, to lead. I thought it would be fun and adventurous,” he said.

He leaves July 19.

Yager has an older sister who served, and she inspired him.

“I’ve always wanted to go in the military,” he said.

Charles White

U.S. Navy

Construction mechanic

“My family has been in the Navy. I have a great aunt who was a captain in the 1970s,” White said.

He leaves Oct. 29.

“I just want to serve my country and travel,” he said.

Evan Ailinger

U.S. Air Force

Financial management

“To me, it seems to be the branch that offers the most for education. I want to go to college at some point. The Air Force prides itself in getting people their associates degree while still in the Air Force.”

He leaves July 30.

“There is education, but it also is a guaranteed job, and serving my country is a big deal for me.”

Ethan Bush

U.S. Air Force

Mechanical aptitude contract, which means he will choose his job in the mechanical field at a later date.

He picked the Air Force because airmen are treated right.

He leaves July 30.

“I am joining to have a career path after (the military), but I also want to do my part.”

Bryce Graham

U.S. Navy

Aviation electrician

“I have a long list of military men (in my family), and the Navy was the best fit for me,” he said.

He leaves July 16.

“I’m serving to better myself and give back for what this country has given me: freedom and liberty.”

About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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