Naval Academy Dream
Teen\’s Naval Academy dream coming true
By Liz Fabian
TELEGRAPH STAFF WRITER
LAKE SINCLAIR – Charleston Haslam has lived his whole life on the water, and now he\’s on his way to making a career of it.
The 18-year-old graduate of Georgia Military College Prep School is not destined for the family-operated marina on Lake Sinclair near Milledgeville. Today, he\’s headed for Annapolis, Md., to begin his four-year appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.
Although Charleston won\’t be helping his father and grandfather on the lake this summer, he\’s still following in his grandfather\’s footsteps.
\”We\’re very proud of him, Grandpa is,\” said Al Haslam, Charleston\’s grandfather. \”I went in (the Navy) on my 18th birthday in World War II. I had to. And he\’s going in at 18. … It seems just like yesterday I was leaving Marshallville on a Southern Stages bus to be sworn-in in Macon.\”
In 1953, several years after Al Haslam returned from his tour of duty as a gunner\’s mate in the Atlantic theater and the Philippines, he began building Haslam\’s Marina on Meriweather Point on the new lake. He\’s toiled there ever since.
The past few decades, Charleston\’s father and namesake, Charles Preston \”Pres\” Haslam Sr., has been Al Haslam\’s first mate at the marina.
Charleston, whose name is a contraction of his first and middle names, started working with his father and grandfather when he was 12 years old.
Pres Haslam thinks his son will make a fine midshipman.
\”He\’s handled the boat well when we go mackerel fishing and learned a lot at the marina,\” said Pres Haslam, whom Charleston credits with encouraging him to pursue a military career.
Pres Haslam said his son is particularly looking forward to crewing on harbor patrol during his weekends at the academy.
Charleston might have developed his sea legs on Lake Sinclair, but he\’s setting his sights even higher.
He is striving to earn a coveted slot as a naval pilot.
\”I wanted to be a jet pilot ever since I was a little kid,\” said Charleston, flashing a Tom Cruise-like smile. \”I never really thought it would come to be until I started looking at colleges.\”
There were many times during the application process when it looked like it would never happen.
First of all, GMC\’s president, retired Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan, tried to persuade Charleston to apply to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Boylan\’s alma mater.
\”He\’s very good at what he does,\” Charleston said at his going away party Friday on the lake. \”But once I told him I made up my mind that I wanted to go to the Naval Academy, he got behind me all the way.\”
Boylan, who is a former commandant of West Point, wrote Charleston a glowing letter of recommendation.
\”Charleston set a goal for himself and achieved it,\” Boylan said Friday.
Of a dozen military academy applications filed through U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall\’s office this year, Charleston\’s is the only one that has been accepted so far, Marshall spokesman Doug Moore said.
\”He\’s a very good candidate and I think he\’ll do very well in our country\’s service,\” Moore said.
While at a recent ceremony at the state Capitol to honor military academy appointees, Boylan warned Charleston of the four-year uphill struggle that lies ahead.
\”I\’m going to do it, sir,\” Boylan said he remembered Charleston saying.
\”I have great confidence in that young man,\” Boylan said.
After Charleston\’s site visit to Annapolis, his application was rejected when applicant reviewers incorrectly assumed he had asthma because of medication he had taken. But family friends and old acquaintances rallied to clear his medical records before a 24-hour deadline.
\”God started 50 years ago putting people in place for this event,\” Pres Haslam said.
Charleston learned he was accepted just hours before his GMC graduation. At the ceremony, Boylan publicly announced the appointment, which led to a standing ovation.
\”It was really wonderful for him,\” Pres Haslam said.
Charleston\’s mother believes it was no stroke of luck.
\”He\’s probably the most deserving young man I\’ve ever known,\” Jeanne Haslam said with tears welling in her eyes. \”He stayed morally straight when it wasn\’t the popular choice. He stayed mentally strong when it definitely wasn\’t the most popular choice. He sacrificed popularity, but gained a tremendous amount of integrity. He\’s going to serve his country well.\”
To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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