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District Five roots mold a special bond for brothers at Naval Academy

IRMO, SC - It is challenging enough to get an appointment to the United States Naval Academy (USNA). It is even more challenging for two brothers to earn that same feat. Irmo High School graduates Mattison and Grayson Gossett always had a passion for serving their country in the military, but they never knew it would lead them on the same path once they moved on to college.

Mattison, a senior, better known as “first classman” was introduced to the USNA by his grandfather, who served as a Marine. “I wanted something out of the norm for a college experience,” Mattison said. “Attending the Naval Academy—one of the finest schools in the country, and serving as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps seemed like a great plan for me.”

Grayson is still getting his feet wet in his first year at the Academy. Known as a “plebe,” he was not so sure he would follow his brother’s path in the beginning. “When I was a freshman at Irmo High and Mattison was going through his application process, I never really considered that coming to the Academy would be something I would try as well,” Grayson said. “But when we attended his Induction Day in 2013 and saw the Academy first-hand and in the years following, it truly opened my eyes to the incredible opportunities the Naval Academy presents.”

Education has always played a tremendous role in the Gossetts’ lives. Their mother, Hayley, serves as a fourth grade teacher at Irmo Elementary School. “It is very, very difficult to get an appointment to the Naval Academy as it is an extremely competitive college,” Gossett said. “For them to both be accepted I think speaks volumes for the quality of education that my boys received in District Five. I credit the support of their teachers, coaches and administrators along the way with encouraging and guiding them both to work hard and reach for their dreams.”

Upon his graduation from the Naval Academy, Mattison will be commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps with a pilot contract. He will head to Virginia to begin a six-month officer training course followed by flight school where he will train to become a Marine Pilot. “I have learned so much from this institution,” Mattison said.

“USNA’s mission is to graduate leaders into the Naval service, and we are expected to bring our skills, experience, and leadership to our communities and government after our military service is over. Leadership is the main focus here at USNA—we live it every day. To lead effectively is to be a selfless, compassionate person of character.”

For Grayson, his journey is just beginning. As plebes, classes mainly consist of core courses that are required of all Midshipmen. This allows him and others to take their time and figure out what they are truly interested in order to declare their major in March of their freshman year. “Right now I am still pretty torn between two completely unrelated majors,” Grayson said. “As of now, I would love the opportunity to be commissioned as a Naval Intelligence Officer upon graduation and see where that takes me.”

When asked about their journeys to this point, both Gossett brothers agreed with their mother about District Five preparing them for the next phases of their lives. “Irmo High School really gave me the foundation that I needed to be successful here at the USNA,” Mattison said. “The Academy is comprised of students from every state in the U.S., along with international exchange students. The ability to interact and eventually lead people from all different backgrounds is a necessity in the military. IHS gave me the opportunity to experience this diversity at a relatively young age, and gave me the academic background I needed to succeed.” Grayson went on to add, “Just like my brother said—I believe that Irmo High School does an incredible job of preparing students academically while helping students appreciate many cultures and backgrounds of individuals.”

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