Daniel Johnston, a senior at Yelm High School, received his U.S. Naval Academy principal nomination from Congressman Denny Heck last month while at school.
And he had some family there to mark the occasion.
Clad in full uniform, Daniel’s brother, Cody, who graduated from YHS last year and is now attending classes at the U.S Naval Academy, was present to see his brother receive his nomination.
Now that Daniel has his nomination, it’s quite likely he’ll get an appointment to the Academy and he’ll be learning alongside his brother in Annapolis, Maryland.
“I’m proud of my brother … We’re only about a year apart, so he’ll get to make his own destiny,” Cody Johnston later told the Nisqually Valley News. “Coming to this place, they don’t just take amazing people and make them useful. They take people and develop them, give them more tools and build up their character … I know I’m going through that character building right now, and I can’t wait to see how much progress my brother makes.”
The Johnston boys come from a tight-knit Christian home in Yelm. The family’s dedication to military service and outdoor recreation has led Daniel and Cody into one of the most prestigious military schools in the world.
Brian and Clara Johnston, the boys’ parents, said preparing their boys for the U.S. Naval Academy began early in their childhood when they enrolled their boys in Boy Scouts and other character-building activities.
Both young men showed interest in serving in the military from a young age, the Johnstons said.
“Before they even made it to academy, they always had that idea they wanted to be in military service,” said Clara Johnston, 45, adding that she tried to push them toward civilian careers.“If they’re born with the military blood in our family, I have to let them go.”
“I was not nearly as successful as my kids … My kids just blew me away, I’m very proud,” said Brian Johnston, 51, who served in the United States Army Special Forces. “It’s really been a lifelong process, if anything, in preparing for this.”
Even though they’ve been preparing for the academy all their lives, the real work begins with the rigorous admissions paperwork.
Daniel Johnston said he began working on his application more than a year ago. The application requires a preliminary application, a nomination — traditionally from a U.S. representative — a number of entrance exams, a medical examination and an interview.
Brian Johnston said it’s a very detail-oriented process that leaves little to no room for error.
“I walked into this process very unsure of everything,” he said. “As I kept going through, I got a lot more confidence in myself and what I could do. At the end of this, now, everything that I thought was daunting or too difficult I was able to do.”
Daniel said he’s looking at a career in Naval Aviation or something in the STEM fields.
Cody Johnston, who’s looking into mechanical engineering and has been busy with extracurriculars, said he thanks his family and his church for the success he’s had at the Academy.
“I had to take this opportunity and I kind of left it up to God … And I’m really happy with this decision because there’s nothing but opportunity here,” he said. “I came to the academy for the services but family is also a really big reason why I’m doing it … Being far away from them is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced.”