Congressman Chris Smith gives future military leaders a fitting sendoff

Neptune Township– Congressman Chris Smith recognized ten extraordinary students and celebrated their appointments to a United States military service academy yesterday afternoon during a ceremony and reception honoring the future cadets and midshipmen, and their families, at the Monmouth County Clerk’s satellite office.

Capt. Pierre A. Fuller, Commanding Officer of Naval Weapons Station Earle, joined Rep. Smith in congratulating the young men and women who are embarking on four years of rigorous training to prepare them to lead in the United States military.


The students will embark on their military careers at the end of June or in early July, depending upon which academy they are attending, with a 6-7 week intensive basic training regimen during which their physical, emotional and mental limits will be pushed as they transition from civilian to military life.

Smith awarded each student with a U.S. flag that has flown over the United States Capitol and a certificate acknowledging their appointment to a service academy.

“No one knows better than you, but it was hard work, sacrifice, planning and execution that got you here,” Congressman Smith said to the appointees and their families in his opening remarks. “And it will it take that and more coupled with even more persistence and devotion to God and country to succeed.”

“Succeed you will,” Smith declared, “You will lead the next generation of leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Merchant Marine.”

Congressman Smith quoted Presidents George Washington and Ronald Reagan, as well as Sun Tzu, in commending the students for their commitment to peace and freedom, through strength, deterrence and vigilance.

Captain Fuller spoke to the students about leadership. 

“There are several characteristics that make a good leader, some say they are instinctive, some say you are born with it, some say you learn it.  I say it is a little of all of these!

“A true leader leads from the front and not from their office. A leader has to be out front assessing and willing to make the difficult decisions when others are scratching their heads.  Leadership requires intestinal fortitude, deflecting praise to others but receiving the gut punch when things ‘go to hell in a handbasket.’

“When changing the status quo, especially if the status quo has resided in complacency for a significant period of time, the leader needs to use several methods to get the team on board…these range from: coaching, team building, facilitative, being charismatic/positive and encouraging, to directive styles of leadership.  Each style has a time frame/shelf life to be employed.  A good leader listens to their subordinates to determine which method is best for the circumstances.”

Acceptance to the service academies is contingent upon receiving a congressional nomination. In Congress, Smith has nominated 248 men and women have graduated from or attended the academies, including the class of 2022 from New Jersey’ Fourth Congressional District:


Peter Garlisi – Hamilton Township

Peter attends Hamilton High School where he is a member of the National Honor Society, the German National Honor Society, and the Varsity Swim Team. He served as assistant Senior Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts, Marching Unit Captain in the Marching Band, and President of the Innovations Lab. Peter has volunteered in various activities, including food drives, park cleaning, veteran recognition, and Eagle Scout projects. He is a recipient of the Rensselaer Medal Award for his achievements in math and science and is Lifeguard/First Aid certified. Peter is pursuing his dream to become a pilot in the Air Force.

Daniel Lisle – Tinton Falls

Daniel Lisle lives in Tinton Falls and was homeschooled. He is a member of the Societe Honoraire de Francais and is Vice President of the Eta Sigma National Honor Society. Daniel was awarded the Honor Flight award for Cadet Officer School and several Civil Air Patrol Awards, including the Wright Brothers award and Amelia Earhart Award. He received 1st place in his age group for the Stars and Stripes Warrior 5K run and received 1st place with his team in the Cadet Officer School Volleyball Championship in 2017. He has also volunteered many hours in organizations such as the Children’s Sand and Surf Mission, Aslan Youth Ministry, and the Bridge of Books. Daniel’s dream is to become an Air Force Officer.

Pareena Patel – Howell

Pareena Patel attends Howell High School and is State Treasurer for the Technology Student Association. She is founder and President of the Robotics Club and led the team to first place in Regionals. Pareena is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish Honor Society, as well as Mock Trial and captain of the Academic Team. She has spent many hours volunteering for Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, Peer Tutoring, Project Lend a Hand, and Saint Peter’s Hospital, and was team Captain for both the Lacrosse and Field Hockey Teams. Pareena has been awarded 1st place in the Robotics Southern Tournament and Biotechnology Design Technology Student Association, and was awarded National Hispanic Merit Scholar in 2017. Pareena’s goal is to devote her life and freedoms to protect the lives of civilians and the welfare of our nation.

Quincy Zawadzky – Brielle

Quincy attends Manasquan High School where he is a member of the History Honors Society, New Jersey Math League. He has experience in the Civil Air Patrol where he advanced to Senior Airman, and has attended various programs such as the Naval Academy Summer Seminar in 2017 and NASA Space Camp in 2016. Quincy has spent many hours volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Hands Together, the Jersey Shore Medical Center, and Monmouth County Food Bank Drives. Quincy wishes to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and become a Naval Officer.


Ethan Jaravata – Point Pleasant Beach

Ethan attends Point Pleasant Beach High School and played JV tennis, Varsity Cross Country, and Varsity Swimming, where he went undefeated during his regular season and received the Coach’s Award. He has spent many hours volunteering, including in activities like cleaning the beach, breast cancer walks, and escorting patients in the Emergency Room. He is a member of the National Honor Society for his academic achievements and has also been a part of the Symphonic band, Jazz Band and Marching Band. Ethan’s dream is to serve his country in the military and be both a strong leader and positive role model.

Arturo Joseph “AJ”  Poznanski  – Middletown

AJ attends the Marine Academy of Science and Technology and is Captain of both the Middletown High School South Varsity Swim Team and the Red Bank YMCA Swim Team where he qualified for the Junior Olympics and New Jersey State Championships. He also has been a member of the Boy Scouts America Troop 246, where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and served as Senior Patrol Leader. AJ has volunteered over 170 hours in various activities, serving as a lifeguard, camp counselor and student football coach. He is looking forward to the journey ahead of him, continuing to study vessels and learning to pilot them for the next four years of his life.


Eric Keosseian – Farmingdale

This year, Eric attended the United States Military Academy Prep School.  A 2017 graduate of Howell High School, he was previously Co-Captain of the Varsity Wrestling Team, the 2017 NJSIAA 220lb State Champion, and he has continued to wrestle at USMA Prep in the Army singlet. Eric has participated in various community activities, including as Assistant Swim Instructor at Silton Swim School, participating in swim relay for life, a member of the Triumph Wrestling Club Team, and is participating in Volley for Autism. Eric is proud to be continuing his academic, athletic, and military career at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Francesco La Torre – Jackson 

Francesco attends The College of New Jersey and attended Notre Dame High School where he was in both the National Honor Society and the International Language Honor Society. He was a member of the Varsity Football team, Defensive Captain of the Varsity Lacrosse team and member of the Varsity Cross Country Team where he set a Notre Dame High School Freshman 5k record. Francesco is registered as a volunteer for the Wounded Warriors Project and has volunteered over 100 hours of community service including activities such as Relay for Life, food pantries, and tutoring students in an Academic Credit Recovery Program. He is also the first recipient of the TJ Drahushak Ironman Award for his fighting spirit on and off the field. Francesco understands a passion for saving lives and has a goal of selfless service, which he will pursue in the Military Academy.  Francesco joins his brother, Antonio, a member of the Class of 2021, at West Point.

Cameo Mooney – Red Bank

Cameo attends the Marine Academy of Science and Technology and is the President of the National Honor Society and Vice President of the Technology Student Association. She was a member of NJROTC, Varsity Track, and Varsity Cross Country as well as Mock Trial Defense Attorney. Cameo is also a member of the Key Club, Spanish Club and Naval Ball Committee. Cameo received first place Structural Engineering at the NJ Tech Student Association state conference, as well as Bronze and Silver achievement awards for the Technology Student Association. She has volunteered countless hours teaching CCD and teaching marine science to middle school students and has cleaned beaches during the annual Clean Ocean Action Beach Sweep. Cameo looks forward to the journey ahead serving her country though the United States Army.


Griffin McDermott – Belmar

A 2017 graduate of St. Rose High School in Belmar, Griffin attends the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in materials science and engineering. At St. Rose, he was a member of both the National Honor Society and the Student Council where he served as President, and was Captain of the Varsity Lacrosse team. He was also a four-year scholarship recipient of the Navy ROTC, and received the West Point Society of New Jersey Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Award. He has spent many hours volunteering for the Red Bank Police Department and Challenger Winter Classic Ice Hockey Game, which benefited the USA Warriors wounded veteran ice hockey team and the Brick Stars. Griffin admires and is following in the footsteps of his uncles, who were all military officers. His brother, Colin, is a member of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Class of 2018.



Posted: June 17th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Monmouth County News, New Jersey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Congressman Chris Smith gives future military leaders a fitting sendoff

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