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Program Looks for a Few Good Teens

The Region

The Ventura Military Explorers get students ready for a career in any service branch.

November 02, 2003|Sandra Murillo | Times Staff Writer

"I could be an FBI agent or a police officer, but there's something about the military that is more direct," he said. "I'm trying to do something big. I'm not staying in Santa Paula and having a 9 to 5."

He has received what is known as a letter of assurance from the United States Military Academy at West Point. That means the school has already reviewed his grades and is holding a spot for him. He must now pass a physical and receive an official nomination from his local congressional representative.

For Medina, West Point and whatever follows offer an escape from dusty, semi-rural Santa Paula. His grandfather, a retired city worker, and his grandmother, a cashier at a pharmacy, probably would not be able to afford an expensive college education for him, he said.

When he is asked why he would enter the military during such a chaotic time, he explains that "being a pilot in the U.S. Air Force is a relatively safe job."

"More than likely I may be in combat, but you go into this job knowing that your life will be in danger," Medina said. "It's a chance we all take. Life would be pretty boring if we didn't take chances."

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