“Having my best friend by my side really drives me to be the best I can.”

Seniors and friends Chance Shank and Garrett Culp make the decision to join the Navy, leaving behind their friends and family.


Photo Courtesy of Chance Shank

Seniors Chance Shank and Garrett Culp shake hands in front of the Navy crest on Friday, Oct. 11. The friends will be attending boot camp this summer.

Caleb Webb, Sports Editor

Seniors Chance Shank and Garrett Culp were sitting in their welding class at the Career Center discussing what they planned to do after graduation. The idea of becoming welders was one that came up, but they didn’t think that was the right avenue for them.

“We wanted something that would be a once in a lifetime opportunity while we’re still young. That’s when we came across a Navy recruiter who gave us a big presentation on what the Navy has to offer, and we were hooked on it,” Culp said. “Chance and I have always had a love for our country and the life of a Navy sailor, so we decided to join and to protect our country.”

Both Culp and Chance have family members who enlisted in the Navy, so it just made sense that they would become sailors.

“I’ve always thought about going into the military,” Chance said. “It was just about what branch. Both my grandfathers were in the Navy and the idea of travel really hooked me.”

While Culp said something similar, “My uncle was in the Navy and I’ve heard a lot of amazing stories from him about repairing airplanes in times of crisis, and I’ve always wanted to support our country in a way that’s not just working a regular job.”

Much like going into college, in the military, one chooses a specialization of practice while active. This could be an engineer, pilot, infantryman, technician, or even a scientist. The sky’s the limit when it comes to all the possibilities, and the friends are reaching for the sky. They want to be part of an elite Navy special operations force: the Navy Seals.

“I’m aiming for the Navy Seals in the end, but if not, I’m going to be an aircrewman which was the job I picked at MEPS,” Chance said.

Culp also said, “I wish to become a Navy Seal throughout my time in the military. They are thought of as the best and that’s something that I would love to be a part of.”

However, going into the Navy is not that of a selfish decision. It’s a choice where a sailor leaves his friends and family for possibly long periods of time, but both Culp and Chance have supportive families.

“My mom and dad are really proud and excited about me going into the military,” Chance said. 

Culp said, “My parents are very supportive about it, and think it’s a great idea for me.”

With a supportive base behind both of them, Chance and Culp have already begun the process of enlisting.

“There was quite a bit that goes into the process,” Chance said. “First off, I talked to a recruiter and went over all of the benefits and responsibilities of being in the Navy, then I had to sign a lot of paperwork and go to MEPS which is the Military Entrance Processing Station. Then take the ASVAB (The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) and do a ton of physical tests and finally swear in.” 

But neither one of them had to go through this process alone, instead they got to do it side-by-side with their best friend and with the support of their family.

“Going through the recruiting process with my best friend is pretty awesome. Most of the time people go in alone and aren’t always driven to do better, but having my best friend by my side really drives me to be the best I can,” Culp said.

Photo Courtesy of Chance Shank
Senior Chance Shank and his younger sister Journey Shank pose in front of their hotel room window in Indianapolis, IN on Friday, Oct. 28, 2016 where they stayed during the State Wrestling Championship. Journey is supportive of Chance’s decision to join the military after graduation.

Chance’s younger sister, Elkhart Memorial junior Journey Shank, has also served as a support.

“He’s not only there for me as a brother, he’s there for me as a best friend. And on top of that, he never judges me and always helps,” Journey said. 

With a friend or family member in the military there is always a chance they won’t come home, yet Journey still finds optimism in this.

“It’s scary that he couldn’t come home, but it’s also awesome how many people he’s helping when he joins,” Journey said. “It’s more than him just doing what he loves, it’s him helping all kinds of people. Personally, I find that awesome more than scary,” she said.

After this school year, Chance will be start boot camp on June 9, 2020 and Culp will begin his on June 23, 2020, both will complete their training at the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois.