Pella — During high school they were classmates and teammates on the football team. Now they are comrades of a different sort.
Brandon Zwank and Brett Bogaard are both Pella natives and graduated with the Pella Community High School class of 2010. During high school they were close friends off the field and great teammates on the football field. Following high school graduation, life often takes friends in different directions. This was no different for Zwank and Bogaard. But what makes their stories interesting is that while their paths were different, they were also similar.
Brandon Zwank, son of Michelle Zwank and Brad Zwank, had no family history of military service, but as he considered options for his life post-high school, he knew he wanted to serve his country. He researched all three major branches of the military. Because his academics were strong, he went a step further and applied at all three of the military academies. In the end the one that stuck out was the oldest, the United States Military Academy – West Point.
Brett Bogaard, son of Randy and Hazel Bogaard, also had no family history of military service. He started to consider it when the Track Coach from the United States Naval Academy began recruiting him. Like Zwank, Bogaard had strong academics and, rather than simply enlisting, he was accepted into the Naval Academy. Bogaard said part of his reason for selecting the Navy was, “that it seemed like it had the most options [for careers].”
Day 1, they both said to themselves, “What did I do?” As time went on they came to realize the necessity of the structure. A lot of it has to do with so many people coming from so many different places, with such different backgrounds. The structure provides a common ground.
“The mission of the U.S. Military Academy is to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, and Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.” (http://www.usma.edu/SitePages/Home.aspx) Cadet Zwank said he learned the value of initiative and trust during his time at West Point. He graduated May 28, 2014. While at West Point, he concentrated his studies in Mechanical Engineering. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army within the Ordnance branch and leaves August 7 for Fort Lee, Virginia where he will report for his first assignment. Ultimately Zwank’s goal is to be part of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal.