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KCHS Buddies train together and return as Home Town Heroes

Posted: September 23, 2013 - 10:38am  |  Updated: September 30, 2013 - 1:55pm

U.S. Marine Pvt. Kaden Wernofsky and Pvt. Nicholas McCollum graduated from Kenai Central High School together and were good friends. At different times and for different reasons they both decided to join the Marine Corps but were glad to learn of the buddy program that allowed them to enlist and complete their basic training together. “I was looking at the opportunities that the military offered and I liked the comradery and cohesiveness that the Marine Corp offered more than any other branch Marines are tight and rely on each other and have that mutual respect and essentially it’s a family and offers a brotherhood.

Marines are exceptionally proficient at what they do. They do their job well and are respected for it,” said Pvt. Wernofsky. Kaden has a brother in the Marine Corp. but says he wasn’t following in his brother’s footsteps, “It’s nice to have a family member in the Corp., but it was a man named Captain Chris Miller that I worked for in Dillingham who more than anyone else inspired me to join the Marines. He was a Marine and demonstrated all the traits that a Marine aspires to be exemplary of and when I saw the kind of man he was, I wanted to be like him,” explained Kaden.

Pvt. McCollum says he was desire to see the world that called him to the Marine Crop. “Ever since I was a little kid I would look at a National Geographic and want to see the world, as much as I love Alaska as my home staying here after high school just wasn’t the life for me so I signed up for the Marine Corp. I liked the image they cast of being the most professional branch that our military has and I wanted to be part of that,” he said. Now that basic training was behind them did it meet their expectations? “It was definitely a challenge, there’s no understating that. It was the best of times and the worst of times of my life. I’m very proud that I went and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world. I have absolutely no regrets there is nothing I would want to change about it at all, becoming a Marine is the best decision I have ever made in my life. Being with Kaden was a great benefit, we went in together, were in the same platoon, we were rack mates, marched side by side on hikes, shot next to each other on the range and stuck together through thick and thin in all the training and are closer than ever before,” said McCollum.

The buddies may have plans for after their service in the Marine Corp but right now they are focused on being Marines, “When I finish my contract I’d like to fly for the Marine Corp go to college and then become an officer, but right now I’m focused on the job before me,” said Pvt. Wernofsky.

Welcome home Pvt. McCollum and Wernofsky, your home town salutes you and thanks you for your service. For more information about becoming a U.S. Marine visit Sergeant Rehm at the recruiting office in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna or call him at 262-2243.

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