Austin Wilson Is Accepted Into The U.S. Naval Academy

Anthony Wayne High School senior Austin Wilson is heading to the U.S. Naval Academy on June 27. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The first time Austin Wilson stepped onto the bridge of a ship, he was 7 years old and on a tour of ships docked along the Maumee River for the 2013 Navy Week.

“I thought it was the coolest thing,” said Austin, an Anthony Wayne High School senior who learned last week that he was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I think of how proud my grandpa would be, knowing that I will get to continue on that tradition, only as an officer,” Austin said of the late Richard Wilson, who was a Seabee during the Vietnam War and passed away in 2013. “My grandpa was a huge history buff like I am. He was always fascinated with the academy.”

For months, Austin has been awaiting news on whether he was accepted. On April Fool’s Day, a representative from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) office called to give him the news. Austin’s mom, Jennifer, thought her son was pulling a prank. Then, on April 3, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) called to congratulate him. His official email notice from the academy arrived on April 4.

Standing in front of the U.S. Military Wall of Honor inside the high school, Austin reflected that he’s also carrying on a tradition of other recent Anthony Wayne High School graduates who have been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, including Cameron Smith (2018), Nolan Barber and Sam Schofield (2020), Cayden Smith (2021), Rory Smith (2022) and Parker Schofield (2023). 

Austin’s goal at the Naval Academy is to major in aerospace engineering – with a focus on astronautical engineering – and become a military pilot. 

With a 4.47 GPA and a list of over 30 extracurricular activities during high school, Austin’s application to the academy was certainly robust. He’s a member of the student council, president of the National Honor Society, a saxophone player in several high school bands, a marching band squad leader and a tennis player, and he is active in the Waterville Historical Society (WHS).

“All of the activities I do, I really enjoy. I get personal value out of meeting people and leading people or a team to a certain goal,” he said.

As co-chair of the WHS Student Advisory Council, Austin works with the 30-member team of students to research, design and present lessons about Anthony Wayne-area history to area third-graders each spring while wearing costumes and bringing props from the pioneer era.

“We’ve been able to grow the SAC program to the point where we’ve maxed out at 30 people and have a waiting list,” he said. “The teachers love it because we keep bringing back such a great program.”

A self-described military history buff, Austin regularly reads stories or listens to podcasts about veterans, but one veteran’s story in particular has hit close to home: His great uncle William Wilson was a prisoner of war in World War II. William was in the Philippines in April 1942 when the Japanese took 75,000 Americans and Filipinos prisoner. In-famously known as the Bataan Death March, the POWs were marched through the jungle for days without food or water, beaten and tortured, until arriving at a camp.

“It was one of the most cruel treatments of POWs in the war,” Austin said. “My uncle survived all that but died two months later on July 3, 1942. He’s now buried in a mass grave in St. Louis. I’ve done a lot of research about him and stories of other veterans.”

As he learns about veterans, Austin said he feels like the kid who idolizes a superhero and wants to grow up to become one. Only in his case, his goal is to serve his country just as those before him did.

“I want to be able to carry on that honor,” he said.

When he enters the academy on June 27, Austin will bring with him some military experience from his two years as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The cadet program allows youths ages 12-18 to learn about aviation, the military, leadership and teamwork. His friend, Joe Masiker – who is heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy in June – invited him to join two years ago. As a member of CAP, Austin has served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of aerospace education events and as a flight sergeant leading teams of five or six other cadets in drills and other activities.

Reflecting on his Anthony Wayne experience, Austin said his fondest memories will be of band, which he joined in the fifth grade. 

“All of my friends are in band, and we had some great band trips,” he said. 

Austin is the son of Brian and Jennifer Wilson of Waterville.

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