Second Cordell to Navy Nuke Program

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Lighting struck twice at the Cordell household.

Following in the footsteps of his brother Nicholas, St. Maries High School graduate Austin Cordell has been selected for the Navy’s prestigious Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program.

Following in the footsteps of his brother Nicholas, St. Maries High School graduate Austin Cordell has  been selected for the Navy's prestigious Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program.

Following in the footsteps of his brother Nicholas, St. Maries High School graduate Austin Cordell has been selected for the Navy’s prestigious Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program.

The program pays current college students to complete their undergraduate education, and then puts them through extensive training in order to become nuclear power officers in the Navy. Many spend their careers below the waterline in submarines, while many others serve aboard aircraft carriers.

Austin, who is studying for a mechanical engineering degree at Boise State University, learned about the program from his older brother Nick, who was selected for the program last year.

After Nick told him about the program, Austin contacted the Navy recruiter in Boise. The Navy sent him to San Diego to tour naval vessels there.

The purpose of the tour was “to see if you’re fit for the Navy as a nuclear officer,” he said.

The trip paid off.

“I fell in love with the idea and it just kind of happened,” he said.

After learning that he had been accepted into the program, Austin gave his oath of enlistment and officially joined the Navy June 21.

While studying at St. Maries High School, where his father John Cordell serves as principal, Austin played basketball, track, soccer, and a little golf, he said. He also participated in Business Professionals of America and became an Eagle Scout.

Danette Cordell, proud mother of the two future naval officers, said after Nick graduates from Boise State this December, he will go to Officer Candidate School at Newport, R.I. and then go on to further training as he prepares to become an instructor in the Navy’s nuclear power program.

Austin will follow a slightly different path. After graduating college, he will go through Officer Candidate School, and then become part of the crew of a destroyer or other surface ship in order to earn his surface warfare pin. After that, he’ll be assigned to Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C. for six months, and then will get another six months of hands-on training on one of the Navy’s prototype reactors in either Charleston, S.C. or Ballston Spa, N.Y.

The Cordell brothers had relatives who served in the military, said Ms. Cordell, but ironically, they were all landlubbers. John’s father, brother, and grandpa were in the Army, she said.

“We don’t have anybody in the Navy in our family, so it was a bit of a shocker to see they were going this route, but it is exciting. It is very exciting. I couldn’t be prouder.”

By the time he completes his training and enters the fleet as a nuclear officer, Austin will have been on the Navy’s payroll for more than seven years, putting him near the halfway point to retirement. Because of that, he is willing to consider making the Navy a career.

That decision is still years away. For now, he’s still a college student with a degree to earn. But he’s already answered the question that all college grads face: “what am I going to do now?”

He’s going to play with nuclear power aboard one of the world’s most powerful aircraft carriers.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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