Newly minted Second Lieutenant Gabriella Spindler graduated from West Point and is ready to get to work with the U.S. Army. Photo by Phil Custodio
Memorial Day 2016 was extra special for the Spindler family of Clarkston – Gabriella Spindler was back in town after graduating from West Point Military Academy in May.
May 30 was also the 22nd birthday for Gabriella, the eldest of Rochelle and Marc Spindler’s four children.
“We are proud she is a product of Clarkston High School, proud to call her our daughter, sibling, friend, and now a United States Army officer,” Rochelle said. “Four years have flown by for us. I think Gabriella would say it took a little longer. As parents as well as family, we couldn’t be more proud of Gabriella and her commitment to West Point and future commitment to serve her country.”
Gabriella earned a commission as second lieutenant in the Army. She selected the quartermaster branch after a visit to Ft. Carson this past summer, during which she worked with officers in charge of ammunition and fuel supply.
“I chose this because I thought it would be interesting, very diverse – logistics are a big part of the world today. It’s very much needed,” she said.
Heading to West Point after graduating from Clarkston High School in 2012 was a humbling experience, she said.
“Being 18-years-old and away from my family for the first time, it was difficult at times,” she said. “The first night away was so weird. But the people there, my classmates, really help you get through the tough times. My classmates are like brothers and sisters to me now. It was a really neat experience.”
The academy’s academic rigor and physical demands taught the importance of teamwork, she said.
“Everyone has to cooperate to graduate,” she said. “You could be good at chemistry but not so hot at math. So you go to your classmates and say, ‘I’ll help you with chemistry if you help me with math.’ It teaches teamwork, which is really important in the Army.”
That means knowing when to turn to her noncommissioned officers, the sergeants under her command, for help.
“You can’t do everything by yourself,” she said. “As an officer, you’re expected to be the subject matter expert, but there’s a lot I don’t know. When I go to a platoon, a lot of soldiers have deployed. They have a lot of experience. They’re my elders. I’m the one who will have to give the orders, but if don’t know something, I have to be willing to ask for help.”
Her parents and family are beyond impressed by her achievements, Rochelle said.
“It’s very hard to put into words what a commitment it takes to graduate from West Point, a full load of some of the toughest academic requirements, as well as continually having to prove yourself by army standard testing all while starting on the varsity tennis team is beyond imagination to us,” she said. “We couldn’t ask for a more passionate, kind and committed person to represent all of us in the United States Army.”
Serving her country is a great honor, Gabriella said.
“The Army is something bigger than myself,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to actually make a difference in the world.”
Her first duty assignment is to the First Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell in Kentucky.
“I’m so excited. I’m going down there in the summer,” said Gabriella, who is slated for a four-month Basic Officer Leadership Course at Ft. Lee in Virginia before joining the Screaming Eagles.
She has also applied to the 101st’s Air Assault School, where she will learn about helicopter infantry tactics and procedures.
She is already a paratrooper, having graduated from Airborne school at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
“I was so scared the first time I jumped out of an airplane. I loved it. It was a great experience,” she said.
As a West Point cadet, instructors picked her to jump first, which meant she got to stand in the door and think about it.
“I was so nervous. It was definitely a challenge, different from what I was used to doing,” she said.
Future plans include more Army training and possibly going to medical school, using the GI Bill.
“I’m really hoping the Army gives me the chance to go to (parachute) Master Rigger school,” she said. “I owe it to my soldiers in the Army to further my career, go to these types of schools and become as much of an expert as I can.”
She is signed up to serve on active duty for eight years. First Brigade is scheduled to deploy overseas in January, possibly to Africa.
“We will no doubt have many sleepless nights over the next eight years or however long Gabriella decides to stay, understanding the world’s climate presently,” Rochelle said. “Gabriella has been trained to lead a group of individuals as an army officer no matter what the circumstance may be and we must also trust in that training. Gabriella will no doubt serve the Army, her troops and represent her country at the highest level possible!”