Gregorian brothers follow in military dad’s footsteps
Offer family touch to Army-Navy rivalry
Published: Tuesday March 09, 2010
Lowell, Mass. - For Felix Gregorian, nothing could be prouder than having two sons attending the most prestigious military academies in the land.
Not even two service tours overseas with the United States Army in Iraq and Afghanistan where he was immersed into a hotbed of hostility.
Say what you want about sibling rivalries but when Dro got accepted into the Naval Academy at Annapolis, his brother Greg wasn't to be denied. On came his acceptance three years later to the Military Academy at West Point.
Add it up and it accounts for nearly $400,000 in full scholarship grants, not to mention the endorsements each received from their Congressmen and support from the general community as well.
And should they be deployed like their dad, it goes with the territory. Both boys are disciplined in the highest military order and put their country before themselves.
Naval aviator in the making
Come May 29, Dro will graduate from Annapolis. He will take a leave of absence throughout June, then return to the Naval Institute to finish Introductory Flight Screening during July and August. Once trained, he will report to a squadron and complete a 3-year tour.
The deployment schedule typically includes a 6-month stint overseas, followed by another six months in the United States before awaiting further orders. He credits his dad with guiding him in the right direction.
"After researching and applying to different schools, I decided the Naval Academy had the most to offer in terms of majors, sports, extra-curricular activities and service assignments," said Dro. "My father taught me it was an honor and privilege to serve. The branch didn't matter."
At Chelmsford High School, he played varsity soccer and ran track. Dro was a member of the North Andover AYF and served as chapter president. He remained active with St. Gregory Church where he was ordained as an acolyte and stole-bearer.
At graduation, Dro had been offered full ROTC scholarships from the Navy, Army and Air Force. His nomination to Annapolis came from U.S. Congressman Marty Meehan.
A typical day starts at 6:30 a.m. with formation, then a full class load. Afternoons consist of intramural sports and conditioning while evenings are devoted to study time until 11 p.m. His major is mechanical engineering.
His freshman year, Dro went out for lightweight crew before joining the high power rifle team. As a First Sergeant his sophomore year, his role leaned toward the care and welfare of underclassmen in terms of professionalism, military appearance, fitness and high academic standing.
He later became Company Executive Officer taking command of 150 midshipmen, followed by a Battalion Administrative Officer this semester in charge of five company officers.
The fact his brother chose West Point and Army sent the boys off toward opposite extremes, causing somewhat of a dilemma when the two schools clash during their traditional football rivalry.
When Felix attended the game last fall with his wife Candace, the parents divided their time on each side of the cheering section, feeling somewhat unique about two sons in such a simultaneous --- yet diverse ---setting.
"This year's Army-Navy game was especially remarkable because of the rivalry, not only between the two services but with my brother as well," Dro admitted. "Despite our differences, we did spend the entire game together with our family. I was especially pleased that day. Navy won, of course, just like they've done for the past eight years."
The Army brother
Greg is a mirror image of his older brother who, no doubt, carried a big influence on his joining the military ranks.
He, too, was a scholar-athlete at Chelmsford High, graduating with a 3.75 GPA. He captained the track team and played varsity soccer, was member of AYF's North Andover Chapter and played in the HMEM Olympic Games. He was a member of two honor societies and like his brother, served St. Gregory Church with diligence as a stole bearer and acolyte.
"Seeing my brother apply was a huge reason for my application," said Greg, who was recommended for appointment by U.S. Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas.
"There is no question in my mind when it comes to becoming part of the world's most elite military. My brother's insight was also indispensable, as was my father's initiative to attend. Growing up with all the military toys, watching war movies and dressing as soldiers during Halloween played a big influence in our younger years. The military is my call."
Straight out of high school, Greg was accepted to six of the 9 schools he applied. Much to his dismay, his three rejections were by the military academies. He attended Virginia Tech for a year and enrolled in the Marine ROTC program.
Greg reapplied to West Point and Annapolis, was turned down by the Naval Academy but got the appointment to West Point.
"It was a hard decision leaving Virginia Tech and repeating my freshman year, but the best one I could have made," he recalled. "Forbes ranked West Point the Number 1 college in the nation and for good reason. The military training and academic curriculum here are top notch."
His daily schedule is much like his brother's --- austere and by the book. Study, gym time, meals. Marksmanship, land navigation, treatment of combat wounds are among the required classes for plebes (freshmen). Taps occur at 11:30 pm.
"It is not a normal college," Greg confirms. "There are no parties. This is a disciplined institution which trains military officers for the future."
Currently ranked 836 in a class of 1,242 with a 2.7 GPA, Greg expects to be deployed once he leaves here, but not necessarily to the Middle East. Depending on where soldiers are needed and the branch of service, it could be elsewhere for humanitarian purposes such as Haiti. He hopes the concentration will be Intelligence, Armor, Field Artillery or Infantry.