Editor’s note: This is part of a series of stories profiling East Texas high school graduates.
William Hardin believes his generation is afraid of hard work, and he wants to be different.
The Sabine High School senior is set to join the Navy after graduation, but he wants to ensure his future after his military career is over. That’s why he accepted a position in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.
“I’m going to come out with an associate degree in nuclear propulsion,” Hardin said. “That was my main goal, to get something that will help me when I get out.”
After meeting with Navy recruiters at school, Hardin took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which is used to determine qualification for enlistment in the military, and scored well enough to be accepted into the program.
“I’ve known (Hardin) since seventh grade,” said Angela Loveless, Sabine High School counselor. “I used to teach him, and he’s always been really bright. He takes advanced classes, and he takes dual-credit classes at Kilgore College.
“I think he’s just really determined and he’s driven,” Loveless said. “I just think he’s got that different kind of mind. I can see him doing something like this. His mind just works differently than other kids, and he’s always been really mature.”
Hardin will leave this summer for boot camp in Illinois and then go to South Carolina for his recruit training. After that, he will attend a two-year school for nuclear propulsion.
For someone who has lived in East Texas his whole life, Hardin said he’s excited to see new things and meet new people, but leaving his family will be a struggle.
“My mom, of course, she’s not ready for me to go,” Hardin said. “My dad’s excited because he told me when he was younger he went to college and all that, but he was goofing off the first few years of college. This is not going to allow me to do that.”
Hardin said he will be a machinist mate, changing out valves and making sure everything on his submarine is running properly. If anything non-technological breaks, he will make the repairs.
“All of our major ships now are nuclear-powered, so submarines and aircraft carriers are what I would be on,” Hardin said. “I chose submarines because it’s a better quality of life, less people and I like a tight-knit community.
“As a kid, you see guys coming up in their uniform and you say ‘Wow,’ “ Hardin said. “You really don’t have to know him or her to respect them for going into that field.”