Watertown High School graduate Brett Sutherland is not the only member of the Class of 2019 to go join the military after graduation. A number are going into the Marines, including his cousin Max Bunnell, but Sutherland decided to go another direction and join the United States Air Force.
As he was nearing the end of high school, Sutherland said that he did not really think about applying to college.
“I never felt like school was for me,” he said. “I didn’t really enjoy it.”
Sutherland was sworn in at an Air Force office in Portland, Maine, in July, and in the fall he will head to bootcamp.
“Probably in mid-September I am shipping off to San Antonio, Texas, for bootcamp,” Sutherland said. “Everyone says bootcamp is very hard, obviously. Everyone there is is committed. No one every quits from the Air Force bootcamp.”
After looking at all the branches of the military, Sutherland chose the Air Force in May.
“I had it down to the Navy and Air Force, but there was something about the Air Force,” Sutherland said. “I spoke to a lot of people who said the Air Force was right for me. Everyone I talked to said they loved it and ended up staying in longer than the 4 years you are required to do.”
Also, it will help prepare him for his ultimate career goal, going into law enforcement.
“After the Air Force, this is the best way to go,” Sutherland said. “You can go right into the State Troopers or even the FBI.”
Getting in is not as simple as just showing up. He had to pass a test which included flight science, math and English.
“I failed the first time, but I got a tutor to help me,” Sutherland said. “I raised my score 23 points. I had to take another test because if you raise your score by 20 points you have to confirm it, to make sure you aren’t cheating.”
Sutherland won’t know what his job will be in the Air Force until after basic training.
“Based on the test scores they give you a list of jobs to go through,” he said. “I gave my first through 10th choices. My first choice is aerial gunner.”
Also on his list is Tactical Air Control Party, which calls in air strikes, security forces, and fire protection.
This summer, rather than working, Sutherland will be working out. Sutherland is used to training, as a three sport athlete at WHS: football, hockey and lacrosse. He is doing a lot of running, hitting the gym, and doing a lot of pushups to prepare.
“I’m pretty excited about bootcamp. I am pretty confident in my ability for the workouts,” said Sutherland. “I am excited to show them what I can do.”
After the 7.5 weeks of bootcamp, Sutherland will head off for two to three months of training for his speciality. After that, he will learn where he will be stationed.
“I won’t know where I will go until after bootcamp,” Sutherland said. “After bootcamp I will go to school for whatever job I have.”
The Air Force has bases across the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia. While it won’t be up to Sutherland where he will be based, he said if he had his choice he would like to be based in Europe.