Pope Francis High School student receives appointment to naval academy

REGIONAL
Story and photos by David Martin

Pope Francis High School senior Edward Thomas (second from left) poses with his family members and Congressman Richard Neal (left) after Neal presented him with an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

CHICOPEE – It was the childhood dream of Edward Thomas to attend a military service academy and become a naval aviator pilot.

Thomas, a senior at Pope Francis High School, here, was given this opportunity as Congressman Richard Neal from the First Congressional District of Massachusetts offered him an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. This appointment can only be conferred through a nomination by a U.S. senator or representative.

Thomas said he learned about the just war theory at Pope Francis and can therefore pursue his dream of being a naval aviator and fall in line with his religious beliefs.

“Military service is fighting for someone who cannot fight for himself, for those who cannot go out and protect their own freedoms. So, as a military pilot and as a young person, it is my duty to go and ensure their freedoms,” said Thomas.

Jan Kelly, college counselor at Pope Francis High School, said Thomas is a “quality young man and the whole package when it comes to the model student.”

Kelly noted that applying to a military academy is an arduous process in which letters of appointment must be obtained. She said there is a very rigorous physical test in addition to the academic requirements of applying to college, including letters of recommendation, transcripts and SAT scores. It is a very intense process with lots of deadlines, she said.

Kelly said Thomas was keeping her on top of the deadlines because he is so organized. She said the school is very proud of Thomas for his achievements and the appointment to the naval academy, which traditionally takes place the day after Memorial Day.

“It really is meaningful. Here we are recognizing people who gave their lives for the country and then we have this quality young man like Ed who wants to go into the military,” said Kelly.

Thomas comes from a military family. His father, Ruliere Thomas, began his career in the army and then changed branches to the Air Force, from which he retired 22 years later.

Ruliere was an immigrant from Haiti and joined the service after coming to America. He said his family members are always calling his son to make sure he is doing well and following in his father’s footsteps. Edward Thomas said his father was a big inspiration in his life and career choice.

Edward stood with his family as he received the naval academy appointment from Congressman Neal.

“Congressman Neal did everything he could in his power to help Edward fulfill his dream and I am so happy to have him here,” said Ruliere.

Edward attended a summer program last year at the U.S. Naval Academy, which motivated him even more to achieve the goal of being accepted to the class of 2022 there. He will major in aeronautical engineering.

For a video version of this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s weekly television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings  at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS

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