Midshipman Hunter Arndt (left) and Cadet Nicholas Tavassoli (right) stand together at the Army-Navy game that resulted in a victory for the Navy.

This month, Apollo Beach residents Midshipman Hunter Arndt and Cadet Nicholas Tavassoli will graduate from their respective United States military academies before pursuing careers serving the country, like both their fathers did before them.

Hunter is graduating from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and will begin aviation training in October in Pensacola.

“We are very proud of him. His sense of obligation and duty is just incredible,” said mother Shannon Arndt.

Hunter knew he wanted to fly jets since he was a young boy in middle school. Throughout his time in high school, he focused these aspirations on a career with the Navy. While he was homeschooled, his studies were just as rigorous, if not harder, under the guidance of his mother.

“He just moved forward more quickly,” said Shannon, who pushed her son to perfection in all his courses. “You can go your pace.”

Hunter worked with Riverview High School to become involved in their JROTC programs and swim team, as well as taking the standardized tests offered to public high school students.

The two boys became friends through their fathers, who worked together at MacDill Air Force Base, and will follow in their fathers’ footsteps by serving their country. Nicholas and Hunter were both Eagle Scouts and a part of JROTC; however, Nicholas was convinced he was not going to pursue a career in the military until his senior year at Plant High School.

“The West Point system is second to none,” said mother Alice Tavassoli. “They’re not just in college full time with a full load, they’re in the military full time. They’re insanely busy.”

Nicholas applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point just days before the deadline but was certain he would get in. Sure enough, his acceptance letter came, and he was bound for New York. He excelled in his classes and will graduate with honors. After college, he plans to pursue a career in the Army Special Forces.

“He’s done very well at West Point,” said Alice, “considering not only how difficult West Point is but the day and time that we are in.”

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.