FORT MILL — Special to the Fort Mill Times
A Nation Ford High School student was awarded the Youth Cadet Award Aug. 12 at the Fort Mill Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Officials said Cadet Second Lt. Nathan Kunzie, 17, was given the award based on his performance as a student and a member of the Nation Ford High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program.
“It is truly an honor to receive this award, but I know that there are lots of deserving cadets, so I receive the award on behalf of all of us that have given our time to volunteer for organizations such as the VFW,” Kunzie said.
Originally from Loveland, Colo., Kunzie is the commander of more than 150 cadets in the program this year. He joined the program for several reasons: First, he said, because he wished to gain better knowledge of the military and have an opportunity for leadership he could mention on a resume. It was only after getting into the program that he realized it was also a good way to serve his community.
“Cadet Kunzie is a mature, responsible and accomplished young man with an unrelenting passion to serve his nation in uniform,” said Col. Sean T. Mulcahy, the program’s commandant.
“Most impressive is the leadership that he demonstrated in establishing a fencing club at Nation Ford High School. He consistently projects a positive ‘can do,’ attitude about anything he is associated with.”
Mulcahy is a retired Marine who wrote a letter of recommendation on behalf of Kunzie to the local VFW. He mentioned the cadet’s academic achievements, including a 4.56 grade-point average that ranks Kunzie 29th out of 397 seniors heading into the new school year.
Kunzie also qualified for the National Rifle Association’s Distinguished Shooter’s Badge and is the captain of the Nation Ford rifle team. And that’s not all.
“He personally orchestrated an Operation Christmas Child volunteer event encompassing more than 40 cadets volunteering three hours each to assemble gift shoe boxes filled with toys and health items for needy children around the world,” Mulcahy said.
He is also involved with Toys for Tots and highway cleanups.
“It is always exciting when the Department of South Carolina Veterans of Foreign Wars recognizes one of your own out of the number of entries submitted throughout the state,” said Army Staff Sgt. E-6 Isaac Miller (Ret), a member of the VFW in Fort Mill.
“From the time I set eyes on his biographical profile sent to me by his commander, Col. Sean Mulcahy, I knew that he was a top candidate for this award,” Miller said. “With Nathan Kunzie’s dedication to his community and quest for leadership in the Marine JROTC program along with his other activities, he will go far as he seeks selection into the Naval Academy.”
With his last year of high school approaching, the cadet has made plans for his future.
“It is my desire to join the military and go to college,” Kunzie said. “I plan to do this at the same time by going into a United States Service Academy such as the Naval Academy or Air Force Academy. I have applied to both and am currently working on that process, but the selection rate is less than 7 percent. Everything I can do helps me to stand out among everyone else in the application process.”
Ultimately, he plans to serve his country as an officer in the military and then move onto government and politics.
“Life will always throw you several curveballs and you’ll definitely have to go over some speed bumps, but it’s important to keep your eyes on your goal and push through,” Kunzie said.