17-year-old receives top U.S. Naval Sea Cadet rank

Local high school student promoted to Chief Petty Officer

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WKBT) - A high school senior from the Wisconsin Dells area is being promoted to the highest rank in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. As a chief petty officer, Casey Swartz will be held to a high expectations in his new leadership role. 

Swartz was 13-years-old when he joined the Battleship Wisconsin Division.

"I saw a flyer at Kwik Trip, and thought this would be a fun program to do," said Swartz, formerly the unit's leading petty officer.

Now 17, he has since completed boot camp, where he trained with actual naval recruits. 

"Cadets there focus on the basics such a marching, close-order drills [and] learning proper etiquette," Swartz said. 

Over the last four years, he's spent an incredible amount of time, money and effort in order to advance up the ranks. To become a chief petty officer, he's had to take online courses and attend monthly and annual training's across the country. 

"They go some place where they are specifically trained in a specific area, whether its seaman ship, computer science, [or] STEM projects," said Lt. Tom Sweeney, commanding officer for the Battleship Wisconsin Division. 

As a chief petty officer, Swartz will be expected to be a technical expert and authority on personnel relations that the cadets will turn to.

"Often you will hear ask the chief," Command Master Chief Bob Marconi said.

As one of just seven units in the state, this is also significant for the entire division. 

"Since the Battleship Wisconsin Division has located to La Crosse, he's the third cadet in eight years to make this achievement," Sweeney said. 

He's the second to do so in less than four months. 

Swartz's father, who served in both the Marine Corps reserves and Army, is proud to see what he's been able to achieve. 

"We didn't think it would go this far and it did and that's great. And it looks like he has a good future in front of him," Curtis Swartz said.

Chief Petty Officer Swartz says that after he graduates from Reedsburg Area High School he plans on joining the U.S. Navy. However, he's not sure yet if he'll enlist or go into the academy.

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