Choaties Who Have Defended the Nation

Photo provided by Mr. Jonas Akins

Mr. Jonas Akins served served in the U.S Navy from 2004 to 2010 and the Navy Reserve from 2010 to 2012

Veterans’ Day, celebrated annually on November 11, honors the brave men and women who defend the United States in the five military branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force. At Choate, we have two faculty members who served in the U.S. military.

Mr. Peter Dupont, Choate’s Mail Services Supervisor, was in the U.S. Coast Guard for ten years, from 1978 to 1989, as a boatswain’s mate. He began in the Coast Guard Academy in Paloma, Calif., and Portsmouth, Va., where he learned valuable skillsets such as typing, as well as subjects in math and science. His responsibilities during his time in service were, as he put it, to basically “do anything I was told to do.” He was in charge of different sized military vessels, often instructing a crew to carry out higher orders. Mr. Dupont describes his job as “search and rescue.” He spent a lot of time out at sea picking up Cubans trying to reach Miami, in addition to handling the Haitian refugee crisis. He was involved with drug interventions and enforced the 200-mile fishing line between U.S. districts. Mr. Dupont enjoyed traveling as a young man and loved meeting people of different backgrounds. He felt that he learned valuable leadership skills that he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

The other veteran at Choate is Mr. Jonas Akins, an HPRSS teacher who was in the U.S. Navy from 2004 to 2010 and then the Navy Reserve from 2010 to 2012, committing almost ten years of service to his country. Mr. Akins was an intelligence officer. He was a briefer and a watch stander on an aircraft carrier, working in the dark surveillance rooms with screens monitoring U.S. military vessels. He also worked in the basement of the Pentagon doing similar work, as well as briefing the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy. This job entailed an abundance of training in three phases. First, Mr. Akins underwent basic officer training, which was three months of running, marching, situps, and pushups in order to get fit. Next, he trained to be an intelligence officer for six months at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center at Virginia Beach. Last, upon arriving at his unit base, Mr. Akins went through a training cycle involving simulators on and off the ships before finally being deployed.

Mr. Akins has brought his experiences back to Choate, first by being the faculty sponsor to the Choate Veterans Support Group, which is run by Reade Ben ’18 and Griffin Birney ’18. The group sends care packages to deployed Choate alumni and contact other alumni who have been recently involved with the military to speak with students considering enlisting.
In addition, Mr. Akins has applied his experience in the navy to his classes. For an example, while covering the Syrian Civil War in Contemporary Global Issues, he was able to investigate and identify airplanes on the ramp at Mauna Kea Airbases on Google Maps.

To Choate students considering enlisting, Mr. Akins said, “Find out as much as you can about it. The military is not for everyone, but it’s a great experience. You have an opportunity to meet all sorts of interesting people from different backgrounds. You are able to be on a team that’s unlike any other, and it stays with you for the rest of your life. If you’re interested, find out as much as you can, and please come chat with me.”

Ms. Judy Senft, Assistant Dean of to the Class of 2019, has two children currently involved in the military – a son in service and a daughter who is enrolled at the U.S. Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y. Her son, Jack, graduated from West Point a year and a half ago. He has since become a helicopter pilot for the Army, is set to receive his wings in weeks, and simultaneously will be promoted to First Lieutenant. Jack will soon go to the 101st Airborne Division, the famous World War II unit in Kentucky. He will spend at least nine months deployed to Afghanistan.
Ms. Senft said, “I am beyond proud. To join the military in any branch, especially when we are at a time of war, I think takes special people.” She continued, “They are just the best and brightest of the future. They’re incredible people. They give so much of themselves to this country, and they make me very proud.”

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