Way to Go: Jeffrey Gao, Mastic Beach
Jeffrey Gao already is making his mark in the military world.
The senior at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach is one of two teens in the Northeast -- and one of 20 nationwide -- to receive the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement from the California-based Legion of Valor.
Gao received the award for his academic achievements and leadership in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
He has been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he plans to study mechanical engineering and then enter the U.S. Marine Corps as an infantry officer. "It's a dream come true," said Gao, 17, of his Naval Academy acceptance.
"I come from a military family," he said. "My grandfather served in World War II and my mother and father in the Air Force."
At William Floyd, Gao is NJROTC commanding officer and a member of the National Honor Society and Youth & Government Club. He volunteers for the Shirley Community Ambulance Co. and last year attended the American Legion Boys State, a program on the structure of city, county and state governments.
"There isn't anyone, cadet or instructors, who is not inspired by his motivation and leadership," said Jay Tweed, William Floyd's NJROTC commander.