Three NHS Grads To Join The U.S. Air Force

David Creed •

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From left to right: Jahen Fitzritson, Will Ciarmataro, and Kareem Maxwell are the three members of the NHS Class of 2023 who will be joining the United States Military. Photo courtesy of Will Ciarmataro.

Tonight there will be roughly 150 Nantucket High School students walking across the stage at Vito Capizzo Stadium to receive their diplomas with friends and family in the stands emphatically cheering them on. As every graduation day tends to be, it will be an emotional setting.

Each graduate will take a different path from here. Some will go to college while others opt to go straight into the trades. Some may take gap years and wait to take their next step while others may completely change their course after realizing their initial path in year one post-grad wasn’t the right fit for them.

For three of these graduates, they feel strongly about what the next chapter of their lives will be: serving the country they love.

Will Ciarmataro, Kareem Maxwell, and Jahen Fitzritson will be joining the United States Air Force to begin their post high school lives, and each of these three has their own reason for doing so.

Ciarmataro said he has been flirting with the idea of joining the United States military for much of his life. He used to have conversations with his stepfather Michael Mabardy, who became a beloved member of the island community for his work with the Nantucket Police Department. Mabardy tragically passed away in April of 2022 due to a cardiac event at the age of 39 while playing hockey, but Ciarmataro knows he will be with him in spirit today - proud of his decision to join the Air Force.

Mabardy and Ciarmataro
Michael Mabardy with Ciarmataro. Photo courtesy of Will Ciarmataro

“This is really a once in a lifetime job and opportunity,” Ciarmataro said. “My Stepdad used to always tell me it would be great for me to join the Army or the Air Force just because of the jobs and opportunities they offer. I used to talk to him about it all the time. We used to do Nerf guns and stuff like that. We were together all the time playing sports and stuff and it would come up.”

“I’ve been eager to do this for a while. I love this country and it is nice to just give back to it... all this joy, all this freedom, all this happiness I have been able to feel throughout my life with almost no struggles. It’s nice to have the opportunity to give back.”

Ciarmataro said his dream job would be to become a special missions aviatior, where he would have the opportunity to be on helicopters and military planes. He then would like to transition to Tactical Air Control Party Special Forces, where he could be on the front lines with the army and marines pegged with the extremely difficult task of calling in airstrikes at the exact, precise time.

“I just want to go in there and take in as much knowledge as I can,” he said. “I’m excited for the experience I’ll get out of it and the friends I’ll get out of it.”

Maxwell said his decision came down to either playing football or joining the military. He said he spoke with friends and his family about it but ultimately decided joining the Air Force was the best decision despite receiving several offers to play football.

“My Dad was encouraging me to join the Air Force,” Maxwell said. “I think what interested me about it was the benefits you get and the opportunities it presents. I’m going into security forces first and then I want to learn a trade.”

Maxwell will be the first in his family to join the military. He said after he leaves the Air Force, he wants to use whatever skills he learns along the way to start his own business.

“I’ll have experience with security and stuff, so I’ve thought about becoming a police officer.,” Maxwell said. “I also want to learn about real estate. There are a lot of things I can do but I want to learn some trades and unique skills while I am there that I can use to start that business once I am out.”

Fitzritson moved from Jamaica four years ago and said he has always been interested in joining the military since he was a little kid. He will also be joining the security forces as well, which is the ground combat force and military police service of the Air Force and Space Force. He intends to serve four to six years.

“To be honest I have always just liked this kind of stuff,” Fitzritson said. “I love military stuff, police work, and so this has always been something I wanted to do. I looked at the other branches and felt that the Air Force was the best fit for me.”

Both Maxwell and Fitzritson hope to join the Air Force in September while Ciarmataro plans to take a Gap Year and eventually go to boot camp in October of 2024, which would be in Texas.

A reminder that due to poor forecasted weather on Saturday, the Nantucket High School Class of 2023 graduation has been moved to today, June 16 at 6 p.m.

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