Having graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Garrett L. Julian is heading to Fort Sill, Okla., and then on to Ansbach, Germany, to fulfill his five-year commitment to the service.
A Permian High School graduate, Julian, 22, earned an international history degree (with thesis) from West Point and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army within the Army Defense Artillery Branch. The commencement speaker was Vice President Mike Pence.
Julian said Pence spoke about how he and President Trump give their full support to the cadets and are investing in the military. He said Pence also talked about his son, who is a U.S. Marine, so he knows how the cadets and their parents feel.
Another life event Julian will reach this week is his marriage to Rylee Hill.
Julian said Hill lived in Odessa, but moved to Denton where she attended the University of North Texas.
“I knew her from here. She was my homecoming date in high school. Then she moved to college at UNT. We met back up at a football game, Army vs. UNT. We just happened to run into each other. Crazy world,” Julian said.
He said the experience of going to West Point was good, although it was tough at times. The boot camp-like atmosphere was meant to humble the cadets, Julian added.
‘There were long days, but overall it was a very good experience; life changing. I guess looking back, it went a lot quicker than it felt than it was during the days,” Julian said.
He was able to come home for a week or two in the summer and a week to a week and a half at Christmas. But the summers mostly featured military training.
“I was at Fort Hood. I was shadowing another lieutenant (with a) tank platoon. Another summer, I was in Fort Drum, N.Y., taking shooting class for a couple of weeks. I just had some other field training at West Point,” Julian said.
He’s heading to Fort Sill at the end of July for four months and then to Ansbach, Germany, at the beginning of next year.
“I’m excited because the unit I’m going to just got stood up in the last year … so I’ll be one of the first people in that unit,” Julian said.
There were about 1,000 graduates in the West Point class this year from all 50 states and several foreign countries. He was nominated for the academy by U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas.
“Garrett has put in a tremendous amount of hard work during his four years at West Point, and I’m confident that he will make Odessa proud as he continues his service to our nation. This is the end of his chapter at West Point, but the beginning of what I’m sure will be an outstanding career in the United States Army,” Conaway said in an email.
“Nominating stellar students like Garrett to military service academies is one of my greatest honors as a U.S. Representative. These men and women prove at a very young age that they have the maturity, intellect and strength to serve. It is truly a joy to watch them grow into their full potential,” he added.
After the service, Julian said he’s not sure what his plans are.
“We’ll see how it goes. If I enjoy what I’m doing, I’ll just stay in because the five years is minimum. It’s a five-year minimum commitment,” Julian said.
He said the instructors at West Point are half military and half civilian.
“So you get both perspectives. You get the mentorship from the officer side and you have the civilians that are experts in their field …,” Julian said.
Permian High School College and Career Advisor Jennifer Perkins said Julian is a remarkable young man.
“And it is no surprise to me that he graduated from West Point. He has always given 110 percent to every goal he has set forth in his life and I have no doubt that he will continue to be successful in his future. Speaking (as) … his former College & Career Advisor, everyone at Permian High School and ECISD is extremely proud of him and he is definitely an example to our students,” Perkins said in an email.
Julian said service to the nation or community is always a good option, whether it’s enlisting with a local recruiter or attending a military academy.
“It’s just a good option with the education and then you get the real-world experience, the leadership workshops and all that so it’s definitely an option because college isn’t necessarily for everyone,” Julian said.