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Frazee trio sets sail for military -- St. Michael siblings to serve in U.S. Navy together

Beth Somerville had a tough time choking back her tears during the Frazee High School graduation ceremonies on May 18.

That was partly due to the fact she was proud of her son Trent St. Michael graduating. In addition, she had her two other children, Gayle and Seth St. Michaels, there as well.

Graduation is likely the last time that Somerville will have her three children together for quite some time. Trent will join Gayle and Seth in the Navy later this summer when he will be leaving for basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois in August.

For the St. Michael siblings, the Navy is just a continuation of a tradition that their grandfather, Jerry St. Michael, started when he served 22 years in the Navy, including time during World War II.

"I'm extremely proud of my kids," Somerville said. "They've made their own choice and they've all done really well. Trent is going to do wonderful things too."

The conflicts around the world that constantly put members of the military at risk worry Somerville somewhat. But she knows that her kids are tough.

"People have asked me 'Aren't you worried? And you poor thing,'" Somerville said. "Ever since this one (Trent) was born, I've worried every day of my life since then. So it really hasn't changed.

"Kids, they really need to make their own choice and follow through with their commitments."

Plus, just daily life is trouble enough, so Somerville said that her kids' risk isn't that much greater than someone who isn't in the service.

"I listen to news about kids that were out drinking, died in an accident, or you could step out in the street and get hit by a car," Somerville said. "Yes, they are at a little higher risk with them being in the military. But they're taught to be careful and follow the rules."

Seth has been in the Navy the longest - about six years running now. At first he was stationed on the USS George Washington. Now he's with the Seabee's -- the U.S. Naval Construction Force.

Seth signed up to see the world and try something else besides college.

"I wanted to do it to get away, experience life and experience the world," Seth said.

Seth still doesn't know if he will make it into a career or not. "I haven't decided," he said. "One term at a time."

Somerville said that Seth almost didn't make it to his brother's graduation. There was a mix up with his paperwork, and he had to go up through the chain of command in a hurry so he could come.

Setting a slightly different course, Gayle still wanted to see the world, but she also wanted to assert her independence.

"Travel, education and break ties from home," Gayle said.

For someone from the middle of America, Gayle said she didn't suffer from much of a culture shock.

"I had done some traveling before in high school," she said.

Right now, Gayle doesn't know if she is going to make it a career or not. She does know that she will re-enlist in another two years for shore duty. After that, who knows what will happen.

"I have lots of time to think about it," she said.

And Trent's reasoning for joining the Navy is along a similar vein.

"It's a good way to get an education and see the world," he said.

He plans on being a meteorologist, which he will go to Advanced School for 12 weeks of learning in addition to the eight-week basic training.

To say that the St. Michaels clan isn't original for all three joining the Navy wouldn't be a fair statement. Somerville said that one principle she tried to drive home is the need to have strong character.

"I would like to take a little credit for that," Somerville said. "That's the idea. Deciding to do something and following through with it until the end which is something I did teach them."

One example of that earlier in her kids' lives was when it came to athletics.

"If you are going to join the sport, you are going to stay with it through the season," Somerville said, remembering the admonitions she used to give.

"And that's pretty much what they are doing (now)," she said.

"I think they will all do well," Somerville said. "What more can a parent ask?"