A young man from McDowell County recently graduated boot camp with honors and is set to have a promising career in the United States Navy.
Anthony Prince, 18, is a graduate of McDowell High’s class of 2021. His father is John Prince and his mother is Daphne Holland.
“We never had much but they always made sure I had what I needed,” he said of his parents.
In his senior year at McDowell High, Prince was a cadet in the NJROTC with the plan of serving in the U.S. Marines after graduation.
“I actually planned on joining so that’s why I became a part of the program,” he told The McDowell News. “I was going to join the Marines before I got in NJROTC, but there was so much I didn’t know or understand and my chief (Jeff McClure) really helped inform me on what the military was like and he was sort of my driving factor to choose the Navy, instead of the Marines.”
McClure, who commands the McDowell High NJROTC program, told The McDowell News that Prince did a semester at the high school but had to do another one remotely because of COVID-19.
“He was very sharp in uniform and thoroughly enjoyed doing physical training,” said McClure of Prince. “He was a well-mannered, respectful young man.”
Prince has two older brothers and two younger sisters. His older brother Austin was the first one in the family to go to college while Anthony was the first in his family to join the military.
After graduating from McDowell High, Anthony entered basic training in the Navy on Aug. 29 and went through boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.
“It is ice cold up there with intense training pushing more on mental strength than physical,” he said to The McDowell News. “It took commitment and initiative to stay focused and locked on for those two months. When I got there on Aug. 29, I was faced with a two-week quarantine. I’d say those first two weeks were the most difficult of all because the food was the same every day and we couldn’t do any training during those two weeks with maybe an hour outside a day, if we were lucky, and we were not allowed to leave the compartment for anything besides chow.”
Anthony went through basic training and graduated from Recruit Training Command’s boot camp with high honors. He was awarded the Navy League award and a letter of recommendation from his former commanding officer.
“This award is given to those who exceed the expectations of a sailor in basic training and demonstrate the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment and apply the core attributes of initiative, integrity, toughness and accountability,” he said.
Anthony Prince was awarded this out of a training group of 427 fellow sailors and this is the second highest honor a new sailor could hold.
“It’s the only award of its kind and he was presented with a commemorative plaque and a letter of recommendation from his commanding officer,” said his mother. “This is quite an accomplishment for him as well as representing what McDowell County has to offer the world.”
Now, he is serving our country at the naval station at Great Lakes, Ill., and is learning to become a damage controlman or DC. They are the Navy’s and Coast Guard’s maintenance and emergency repair specialists. Navy DCs do the work necessary for damage control, ship stability, firefighting, fire prevention and nuclear warfare and defense. They also instruct personnel in the methods of damage control and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense, and maintain/repair damage control equipment and systems, according to Wikipedia.
Anthony said the DC rating is “arguably one of the most important rates in the Navy depending on who you ask.”
He should graduate from DC school on Feb. 14, and his plan is to get to his next command and learn as much as possible about his rating. He wants to not only make rank but have those invaluable skills for the rest of his career and life.
“That’s my story, just to show no matter what kind of background you came from you can always make a way out for yourself with some hard work and dedication,” he said. “If you want something, go and get it, don’t wait for it to come to you.”
Anthony Prince’s story is reminiscent of a quote from a fellow Navy veteran.
“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy,’” said President John F. Kennedy.