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Flying High: LT William Rasmussen '13

Flying High: LT William Rasmussen '13

As a junior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, LT William Rasmussen13 faced the decision that every Upper School must. With college on the horizon, the question about his future needed an answer.

Growing up flying with his dad, a private pilot, and his grandfather, a World War II veteran, signs pointed to a potential military career. “After my grandfather served in World War II, none of my immediate family had joined and I did not want that legacy to end,” LT Rasmussen said. “I always enjoyed sailing and the ocean and settled on the Navy. I thought it would be a good way to see the world, too.”

He continued his college search and earned acceptance to Georgia Tech with a HOPE scholarship and decided to enter the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps as well. NROTC covered the cost of tuition in exchange for a minimum of five years of service. He was able to use HOPE funds for other expenses, including a study abroad program.

During his first year of NROTC, he explored all the options for Naval service, which include pilot, surface warfare officer (who works on regular navy ships and drives them) and nuclear submarine officer (who is in charge of submarines and their nuclear reactors). After one year of NROTC students can decide if they want to continue or leave the program. LT Rasmussen committed to continue with his eye on becoming a pilot. As a senior at Georgia Tech, he was thrilled to be selected as a pilot.

After graduating in 2017 with a degree in industrial engineering, he moved to Pensacola, Fla., to begin flight school. He earned his wings after three years of training. He selected jets out of primary flight training, then the F/A-18E/F out of advanced flight training, and from there was selected into a single seat F/A-18E squadron, where he has worked for more than a year. His squadron is the VFA-136 Knighthawks, based in Lemoore, Calif. They are currently on an eight-month deployment on the USS George H. W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. He flies the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

“It is incredible to be able to take off and land on an aircraft carrier every day,” LT Rasmussen said. “There are some awesome people in our community and I’ve made a lot of great friends in the Navy through flight school and training in the F-18.”

Prior to deployment, he and his squadron friends did see the movie “Maverick” and thoroughly enjoyed it. One of their pilot mentors played a part in the movie as a stunt double flying real maneuvers on screen. They also participated in a flyover at a San Diego Padres baseball game, which his parents and brother Christian ’09 were able to attend.

LT Rasmussen will fly for six more years to complete his commitment and is considering a wide variety of options in the future, including returning to college to earn a Master’s degree, entering NASA or becoming a test pilot.

While the current distance and separation from family and loved ones, including girlfriend Liz Hamel, a fellow Georgia Tech graduate who works for IBM in Atlanta, are challenging, his supporters know that his mission is extremely important.

“I’d recommend this career choice to anyone, but caution that it is unpredictable,” LT Rasmussen said. “Make yourself competitive for selection to programs that facilitate your goals. Good grades, sports, clubs and all the things that are already stressed will give a good starting point and will keep your options open.” 

— Christina Mimms