2020 Graduates: Serving Our Country

2020 Graduates: Serving Our Country
Posted on 09/21/2020
More than 40 graduates from the Class of 2020 in Douglas County now serve in the US Military. While military personnel expect to make many sacrifices while serving their country, this group of teenagers started making sacrifices before basic training began. Many of the recruits missed their high school graduation ceremonies after they were postponed two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic also added on two weeks of mandatory quarantine before basic training, which is already seven to 13 weeks long, depending on the branch of service.

We are proud of our graduates who have chosen to serve our country, and we are grateful for their dedication to our nation’s freedom. For a list of all members of the Class of 2020 who made plans to serve in the military, please click here. We are proud to feature three of the new enlistees.

John Fambrough with momJohn Fambrough, pictured above at his swearing in ceremony and here with his mother, enlisted in the US Navy and will leave in October for basic training in Great Lakes, Illinois. With his basic training beginning in the fall, he was able to participate in Douglas County High School’s delayed graduation ceremony and receive his diploma in person! John wants to be a hospital corpsman and receive additional training so that when he leaves the Navy in 10 years, or maybe more, he is a registered nurse.

“I took several health care classes, including a phlebotomy class, at DCHS, that will help prepare me for being a hospital corpsman and one day a nurse,” said John.

John said he joined the Navy “to give back, receive training, and to push myself to do better things. It’s been a huge wake-up call so far, but that’s what I want.” He says he’s willing to serve any place the Navy sends him.

Erin Smith, also a graduate of Douglas County Picture of Erin Smith High School, was at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, learning to be a soldier in the US Army the day most of her classmates walked across the football field to receive their diplomas and celebrate with friends and family.

With basic training behind her, she’s now going through Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Ft. Lee in Virginia to become a vehicle mechanic. She says her next goal is to enter Officer Candidate School.

Erin says she joined the Army, “to serve, of course, and to get out of my comfort zone and learn new skills.” She says the experience so far has been amazing. “Basic training taught me resilience, perseverance, leadership and the importance of working together as a team. I never could have gotten through training without working together with others.”

Right now, Erin plans to make the Army a career. She looks forward to traveling anywhere the job takes her, and she really hopes that includes Japan and Germany!

Picture of John Michael Harbin's DadJohn Michael Harbin received a diploma in May from Alexander High School. Like Erin, he missed his high school’s delayed graduation ceremony due to basic training. John Michael enlisted in the US Marine Corps and is currently finishing basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Parris Island, South Carolina. From there, he’ll go to Camp Geiger in North Carolina for Marine Combat Training and then to Military Occupational Specialty training in Florida. Following in his father’s footsteps, John Michael plans to be a UH1 crew chief.

John Michael’s long-range goals are to apply for a program that allows enlisted Marines to earn a commission while concurrently earning a bachelor's degree from a college or university. After he earns his bachelor's degree, he will have to serve another four years minimum through this program, but he plans to serve at least 20 years. 

Even though John Michael wasn’t at his graduation in July, both of his parents attended. “Shane and I wanted to attend graduation so we could hear John Michael's name announced and to show our support for all of his classmates and close friends who worked very hard for this achievement,” said his mother, Kerry Harbin, who works for the school system as media specialist at Holly Springs Elementary School. “John Michael was a good student who graduated with honors. We are very proud of his choice to serve in the United States Marine Corps.” 

John Michael is still at basic training, but his parents received this banner! His dad, Shane, holds his own picture taken after he completed basic training at Parris Island in 1992.
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