Growing up in a small community, Russellville resident Shannon Thompson sought not only an adventure, but the opportunity to develop skills that would benefit him after high school.
And with a chronicle of military service passed down through several generations, joining the U.S. Navy seemed like the best outlet to achieve his goal.
"My father and grandfather were in the Navy, and my mother's father retired from the Army," Thompson said.
While still a junior in school, Thompson realized the gravity of the decisions to be made regarding his future.
"During high school, the road I was traveling wasn't necessarily a good one ... and I knew I had to make a choice with what I was going to do with my life."
He joined the Navy between his junior and senior year under the delayed entry program, which allows recruits to immediately enlist but postpone their initial training until a later date.
Graduating from Russellville High School in 1989, Thompson reported to Orlando for his basic training.
"All I remember about (boot camp) is that it rained just about every day and was terribly humid," he said. "It was just horrible."