By Andy Fillmore / Correspondent
Two local high school seniors are headed for the U.S. Naval Academy.
They are Robert J. Castaneda, 17, a senior at Trinity Catholic High School, who has been recommended for the one-year Naval Academy Preparatory School program in Newport, Rhode Island, prior to attending the academy; and Dawson Oliver, 18, a Vanguard High School senior on his way to the academy with a direct appointment.
They were introduced during a recent meeting of the Ocala Kiwanis Club, along with Robert’s sister, Kathia Castaneda, 18, a Trinity Catholic graduate and member of the U.S. Navy already in her first year as a “plebe” at the academy.
The three were guests of club member and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Larry Fagan, who is a longtime U.S. Naval Academy Blue & Gold officer, or student liaison. Fagan gives talks at local schools about service in the Navy and recommends and assists those headed for service academy positions. He said the goals of Kiwanis also are aimed at helping youth.
Dawson is the son of Lynette and Dr. David Oliver.
“Fagan was an immense help,” said David Oliver, a physician with American Family Medicine, about his son’s preparations for an appointment to the Naval Academy.
Dawson was sponsored by Congressman Ted Yoho and former Congressman Rich Nugent. Fagan said he is scheduled to present Dawson his Naval Academy Appointment certificate in a ceremony at Vanguard High School.
Dawson was a member of the state board of Key Club, an outreach of the Kiwanis organization, in high school. He plans to study political science and join the U.S. Marine Corps.
David Oliver said Dawson and his sister Makayla, 15, were raised with pride in country and community. He said Dawson’s grandfather was a Navy veteran of service in the Pacific in World War II and the family still has his military uniform.
“We’re so proud to be members of this community,” he said, adding that appreciates all those, including educators, who helped his son earn the appointment.
Kathia and Robert are following in the footsteps of their father, Robert Castaneda, a 25-year Navy veteran who is now on active duty with a squadron in Hawaii in fixed wing aviation maintenance
“I’m very proud. Cecelia (his wife and the children’s mother) is the inspiration,” Robert Castaneda said in a phone interview. He added that he is scheduled to be home in Ocala in time for high school graduation.Kathia is studying for a career in naval aviation, which may include service in reconnaissance aircraft and cyber security. Robert also plans to study toward a career in naval aviation, possibly as a pilot. Both would be serving as Naval Flight Officers.According to the U.S. Naval Academy website, www.usna.edu , the academy was founded in 1845 at Fort Severn in Annapolis, a 10-acre Army post. The campus grew to 338 acres and thousands of students. By 1933, Bachelor of Science degrees were offered. The curriculum now includes 18 major fields of study. Women were accepted at the academy in 1976, with females now representing about […]