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Deployed Yuma Marine home early to attend U.S. Naval Academy

27 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Gregory Aalto

A Yuma ordnance technician from Marine Attack Squadron 214 currently deployed to Afghanistan earned an early homecoming recently after he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy.

Cpl. Thomas Fortuna, of Hamden, Conn., applied for the Naval Academy in February 2009 and was deployed three months later.

“I really wish I could have been able to finish my deployment, but this has been a goal of mine since I was a little kid,” said the 21-year-old.

Fortuna reported to the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I. in July for 10 months of instruction in English, mathematics, chemistry and physics before beginning four years of education at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

“I have the determination to get my goals accomplished,” said Fortuna. “I think I’ve been endowed with the tools that will allow me to succeed.”

Before Fortuna reaches his goals, a tough road lies ahead. The academy has a 25 percent attrition rate, and he will need to adapt to a student lifestyle.

“It will be frustrating for (Fortuna) to transition from a fleet environment to a rigid training environment,” said Capt. Anthony Guidry, VMA-214 pilot and Naval Academy graduate.

Guidry said he believes Fortuna will not only make this adjustment quickly, but will also excel at school like he has in his Marine Corps career.

“I would like to come back to the Marines as an (intelligence) officer,” said Fortuna, who is scheduled to graduate in 2014, once he completes the rigorous curriculum.

Fortuna has already demonstrated an ability to succeed by earning meritorious promotions to private first class, lance corporal and corporal during his Marine Corps career and has also completed three college courses.

“He’s got all the qualities of a sergeant and he’s only a corporal,” said Master Sgt. James Carver, VMA-214 ordnance chief.

Although Fortuna has a challenging road ahead to accomplish his childhood dream, he has already shown a desire to lead and has made an impact as a positive role model for his fellow Marines.

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