• James Townsend

PHS Senior Andrew Pace preparing for service in US Navy

Andrew Pace, a member of Portland High School’s graduating class of 2020, will be departing in the coming weeks for his basic training with the United States Navy at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois.

Andrew is the son of Scott and Barbie Pace and has two brothers, Alexander and Aidan. He was born in Monroe, Michigan, and attended Dimondale Elementary and then Holt Public Schools until 9th grade where he spent one year at Grand Ledge High School before moving to Portland.

Mother Barbie Pace told the Beacon, “Andrew has always been a happy child but extremely driven. He played baseball for Holt JR Rams from four years old until the end of 8th grade. He then played freshman baseball for Portland along with wrestling and cross country. He was part of the Dimondale Scout Troop and obtained his Eagle Scout in May of 2019. Andrew chose to do his Eagle project at Grand Ledge food bank. Andrew raises money by collecting cans and doing speaking engagements. Andrew remolded a room and brought it to code, so they could store non-perishable food items. Andrew also built a large double-sided clothing rack with shelves on each end. Andrew has collected more than enough money to pay for his project and donated the remaining money to the food bank so they could replace a large freezer that had stopped working.”

Andrew became a Navy Sea Cadet at the age of 13 and accelerated in the program to become Honor Staff Cadet at Great Lakes Naval Base. During the first half of his senior year he was given the opportunity to do a work internship at Portland City Hall and the Ionia Court House.

Linda Toomey from Boy Scout Troop 645 in Grand Ledge told the Beacon that Andrew was awarded his Eagle rank at a Court of Honor held on May 18, 2019.”

Toomey said, “I had the opportunity to lead Andrew for five years in Cub Scouts (Troop 643, Dimondale). As a young scout he welcomed new experiences and was passionate about setting goals and achieving milestones. He was determined and always looking forward to the next rank. Looking back, I believe Andrew set his goal to become an Eagle Scout back in those days.”

Toomey added, “Throughout the years Andrew has balanced scouting, academics, and participation in track, cross country, wrestling, baseball, and community service. During this time Andrew also participated in the United States Navy Sea Cadets where he served in many leadership positions. It comes as no surprise that Andrew set his goal years ago to join the Navy.”

Toomey went on to day, “We are extremely proud of Andrew and all that he has accomplished including the positive impact that he has had on his community and beyond. The sky, or in this case the ocean is the limit and we cannot wait to see what he does next.”

Andrew became interested in the Navy through the United States Navy Sea Cadet Program. Mother Barbie said, “When he was accepted into the Navy Intelligent Program enlisting was his chosen option. His Eagle Scout rank would allow him to advance to E-3 but with the Intelligence program he will receive the rank of E-4 after A school. Andrew is very driven and even though we support his decision to follow his dreams. As his mother I feel happy, sad, worried, scared but most of all our family are proud of Andrew.”

PHS wrestling coach Andy Pulling told the Beacon that Andrew, as a senior in his second year of wrestling for PHS, wrestled 19 matches. He won seven matches, four by pin. Pulling also said that Andrew was a great help with the youth wresting program camps and practices.

PHS track coach Bart Simpson said, “Andrew was going to run distance, as he gets ready to leave for the service.”

Andrew has done very well academically in high school. He scored a 1490 on his SAT’s and likely could have attended his choice of colleges, but he has decided to join the Navy. When asked about his decision, Andrew told the Beacon, “My interests in the military sparked from many of my family members serving. When I was younger, I got involved with the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, which is a cadet program for the US Navy. I thrived in the structured environment and realized that I wanted that for my future. I have always wanted to be an officer in the military, but I chose to enlist rather than going to an academy or doing ROTC at college. I feel as if you get a better quality of leader when you can experience what the people you’re leading are experiencing.”

Andrew said, “I will be shipping out within the next few weeks for bootcamp at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois. Following bootcamp I will attend A school and C school in Virginia Beach, Virginia to become an Intelligence Specialist.”

When asked if there anything else he would like to share with readers, Andrew said, “If there’s something that you want in life, then set that as your goal and never turn away. Never change that goal, sometimes you may have to change the plan to get to it, but never change it.”

Photos courtesy of Barbie Pace.

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