The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, held its 157th graduation and commissioning ceremony on May 25. The academy graduated 1,028 midshipmen, 791 of whom will serve in the Navy and 213 will serve in the Marine Corps. A small number of them will serve in other branches of the military.
Among the graduates this year were six students, known as midshipmen, from South Dakota who received degrees and commissions from the Naval Academy. These graduates are Chirstopher Bongard of Rapid City, Thomas Dendinger of Vermillion, Martin Merrick of Sioux Falls, Kyle Schull of Watertown, John Stange of Brookings and Casey Two Bears of Eagle Butte. Merrick, Schull and Stange were commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps while Bongard, Dendinger and Two Bears were commissioned as ensigns in the Navy. As graduates of the Naval Academy they have completed a four-year, total immersion program where a strong, balanced academic program, focused on the educational needs of the Navy and Marine Corps, is superimposed on a strict, professional military training environment emphasizing the development of leadership skills.
Ensign Thomas Dendinger, a 2003 graduate of Vermillion High School, obtained a bachelor of science degree in astronautical engineering and a minor in Russian. Following graduation, Ensign Dendinger has been assigned to the Naval Nuclear Power School in Charleston, SC, where he will continue his education for one year prior to joining the submarine fleet.