NEWPORT NEWS, Va. –
Upon swearing into the Virginia Army National Guard Aug. 20, 2021, Cadet Ethan Pulket began adding to his family’s legacy of more than 200 years of combined military service. For generations, his family has served in the National Guard and, notably, the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, where Pulket will be assigned upon receiving his commission.
“I always knew I wanted to join the military,” Pulket said, explaining that it wasn’t until his senior year of high school that he finally decided to join the National Guard, where both his parents served along with several of his aunts and uncles, his grandfather and his great-grandfather, who retired as a brigadier general. “I proudly want to continue that legacy.”
Even with a family dedicated to military service, Pulket’s parents were still surprised when he told them he’d decided to join the National Guard.
“His mother and I made a point to not push him towards joining or lean on him as an expectation when he was growing up," said his father, retired Sgt. Maj. Brian W. Pulket. He said if their son chose to join the military, they wanted him to do it for himself, not to please his parents or because he felt like he had to.
“Ethan holds a lot of respect for the military and has probably been thinking about it for many years, the same way that his father did when he was in high school,” said Pulket’s grandfather, retired Col. Arthur W. “Bill” Pulket. "I believe he had joining in the back of his mind for a long time.”
His grandfather said the tradition of military service started when his father, Pulket's great-grandfather, joined the National Guard right after World War II.
“My father was a perfect example of someone that would be anyone’s mentor, especially to his family," said Bill Pulket. "He went into the Guard in 1948 and served until 1985. He started as a private and retired as a brigadier general."
Pulket’s swearing-in ceremony took place at Christopher Newport University, where he’s currently a student.
“It’s exciting to see the level of commitment he has to the Army National Guard and it’s important to know he's was not forced into this," said Staff Sgt. Austin T. Sturtz, Pulket’s recruiter. "He wanted to continue the legacy on his own. I am looking forward to seeing him commission and accomplishing great things in the Virginia Army National Guard.”
In joining the National Guard, Pulket made use of the many benefits available to him, and is a Minuteman Scholarship recipient, which means his tuition will be paid in full for his sophomore through senior years of college. Additionally, while he’s participating in his school’s ROTC, he’ll be part of the Simultaneous Membership Program, or SMP, which allows ROTC cadets to simultaneously serve in the National Guard, thus earning a monthly paycheck and participating in valuable, realistic officer training.
“I am so proud of him, so, so, proud of him," said his mother, Christine M. Harmon, on her son receiving the Minuteman Scholarship. "I think he’s the best kid ever. This is not something that everybody receives, you have to apply for it. I am just so incredibly proud of him.”
Pulket intends to double major in accounting and finance at CNU.
“I decided to attend CNU because I wanted to stay in Virginia," said Pulket. "The university was inviting, it felt like home, and its business school is top-ranked in the country. What caught my attention is that 99.7% of graduates from CNU business school get a job related to their major."
When his great-grandfather heard that Pulket was going to CNU with a full scholarship and joining ROTC, he was excited.
“I'm just tickled to death for him," said Pulket’s great-grandfather, retired Brig. Gen. Arthur W. “Art” Pulket. "One, he gets a great education, and two, he’s very athletic with a lot going for him, especially in this age of teenagers. He’s passionate about everything and has such a tremendous drive. We’re quite proud of him.”
As soon as Pulket made up his mind on joining the National Guard, he began to prepare himself for the rigors of military service. He started working out more and pushed himself to do well on the Army Physical Fitness Test, where he ended up scoring a whooping 429 points on the extended scale with 124 push-ups, 135 sit-ups and an 11:03 two-mile run.
"He has the highest PT score that I have ever seen,” said Sturtz.
Pulket’s physical fitness prowess wasn’t too surprising to his family. In high school, Pulket ran cross country and, according to his father, participated in their neighborhood swim team from an early age, eventually working his way up the ranks as first a lifeguard and now the area supervisor who oversees ten pools.
“At 19 years old, that’s a lot to take on," Pulket’s father said. "He’s the youngest employee that they have ever had with area manager responsibility.”
The drive that pushed Pulket up the ranks at his local pool is an indelible part of his character, according to his mother. She said he’s passionate about being a good worker and whatever he commits to doing, he goes all in. She believes that joining the Virginia Army National Guard will help her son grow in unique ways.
“It’s hard to get that knowledge," she said. "It’s going to teach him a lot of things about being independent and self-reliant. He will learn problem-solving skills that you can only get through familiarity. He puts a lot of effort into everything, and his work ethic is really inspiring, he impresses me a lot.”
Pulket feels he has big shoes to fill as he starts his own military career and ponders the legacy of military service inherent to his family.
“It’s a little overwhelming to have to live up to that, but I know that they will be supporting me throughout the entire process. I have a long way to go to continue the Pulket legacy, and I plan on doing it respectfully,” Pulket said.
Military Service within Cadet Ethan Pulket’s Family:
Cadet Pulket’s mother, Christine M. Harmon, retired as a first lieutenant, serving as a traditional Soldier in both the South Dakota and Virginia Army National Guard. She served as both an enlisted Soldier and as an officer, and ended her military career as a medical platoon leader in the Charlottesville-based Charlie Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team while also serving as a cadre member at the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School. In addition to his mother’s service, his maternal grandfather served in the U.S. Army for three years; both his aunt and his uncle served in the South Dakota Army National Guard, and his cousin, Spc. Benjamin J. Hanzen, is a current member of the South Dakota Army National Guard.
On Pulket’s paternal line, his father served in the Maryland Army National Guard and at National Guard Bureau, retiring after 25 years as a sergeant major. Both his grandfather, who achieved the rank of colonel, and great-grandfather, who retired as a brigadier general, also served in the Maryland National Guard, retiring after 31 and 37 years, respectively. His great-uncles, retired Col. Kenneth S. Pulket, retired Maj. Dennis V. Pulket and retired Maj. Gene L. Pulket, all served in the Maryland Army National Guard, each serving upwards of 22 years. Three of Pulket’s cousins also served or are currently serving in the Pennsylvania, Georgia and Maryland National Guard, respectively.