Durbin Announces Nominees for Service Academies

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the names of young men and women whom he has nominated to attend four of the nation’s service academies.

“Every year I am honored to nominate some of Illinois’ best and brightest young men and women for our nation’s service academies,” Durbin said. “These individuals are the leaders of tomorrow, and I have no doubt that they will make their families and their country proud.”

The academies include U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York.  Everyone who wishes to attend a service academy must secure a nomination from one of a few sources, including a U.S. Senator.  Prospective students at the service academies must apply for a nomination and demonstrate exceptional academic achievement and good moral character.

U.S. Senators are allowed a maximum of five appointees at a given service academy at any time—except for the Merchant Marine Academy, which is based on a state quota.  Senator Durbin is allowed to nominate 10 candidates for each vacancy and does so by selecting nominees for admission on a competitive basis.  The service academies will each choose one nominee for each vacancy and offer him or her an appointment.

While each member of Congress is only guaranteed their annual allotment of appointments, it is general practice that the service academies will also consider the remaining applicants for appointment outside the congressional quota, depending on student qualifications and class size.  In previous years the academies have accepted significant numbers of Durbin’s nominees because of their superior qualifications.

The nominees were chosen by Durbin’s Service Academy Selection Committee, a nonpartisan board that meets annually in December to review applicants.

Senator Durbin’s nominees and their hometowns are as follows:


Michael O. Burke, St. Charles, son of Martin and Katherine Burke

Margaret M. Finger, Chicago, daughter of Kevin and Joanne Finger

Elizabeth L. Gonzales, Bensenville, daughter of Nancy and Michael Gonzales

John D. Hamman, Naperville, son of Lisa and David Hamman

Michael P. King, Wheaton, son of Marybeth and David King

Trenton R. Leslie, Chicago, son of Ross and Kimberly Leslie

Michael P. McGerty, Lombard, son of Patrick and MaryAnn McGerty

Stephen G. Pierzchala, Elmhurst, son of Richard Stanley and Dayna Sue Pierzchala

Jake J. Ribich, Port Barrington, son of Diane and Len Mattaliano

David P. Thrasher, Wheaton, son of William and Penelope Thrasher

AIR FORCE ACADEMY (two vacancies)

Nicholas J. Baietto, Crystal Lake, son of Michael and Elizabeth Baietto

Caitlyn D. Brizzi, Dupo, daughter of Jennifer Cooper and Jeremy Brizzi

Amanda C. Burson, Aurora, daughter of Byron Ray and Rebecca Carrol Burson

Angela M. Buch, O’Fallon, daughter of Karl and Sheila Buch

Matthew J. Fleckenstein, New Lenox, son of Raymond and Doris Fleckenstein

Diana S. Hare, Crystal Lake, daughter of Forrest Hare

Jeong U. Kim, Apo, Germany, son of Hyun Kim and Jin Kjung Lim

Alexander L. Knox, Rolling Meadows, son of Eric and Brenda Knox

Connor J. Latham, Lakemoor, son of Lisa and Mark Latham

Mason D. Pohlman, Jacksonville, son of David and Kimberly Pohlman

Timothy J. Sanderson, Belleville, son of Darrell and Beth Sanderson

Riley M. Simpson, Wheaton, David and Tin Simpson

Mateusz Szelazek, Franklin Park, son of Anna and Bartosz Szelazek

Michael J. Stefan, Deer Park, son of Richard and Ann Stefan

Aidan J. Smith, Hinsdale, son of Brian Timothy and Cheryl Anne Smith

Elias R. Sanchez, Green Valley, son of Justin and Jennifer Sanchez

Courtney G. Trom, Hoffman Estates , Steve and Maureen Trom

Maxwell C. Turner, Marquette Heights, son of Douglas and Shelly Turner

Garrett A. Wight, Williamsfield, son of Alan and Kathy Wight

Ashton C. Williams, Springfield, daughter of Brian and Rebecca Walton

NAVAL ACADEMY (one vacancy)

Matthew C. Bandusky, Wheaton, son of Drew and Karen Bandusky

Matthew J. Bender, East Peoria, son of John and Stephanie Bender

Malone E. Buinauskas, Western Springs, daughter of Peter and Catherine Buinauskas

Mariah C. Dicksen, Lockport, Michael and Carol Dicksen

Michael R. Graham, Crestwood, son of Mike and Lisa Graham

Patrick M. Guinan, Elmhurst, son of Thomas and Margaret Guinan

Nolan A. Kreipe, Carlinville, son of Kevin and Tracey Kreipe

Tyler J. McAvoy, Geneva, son of Terry McAvoy

Bradley R. Novak, Brimfield, son of David and Anita Novak

Lucy A. Zimmerman, Naperville, daughter of Thomas and Debra Zimmerman


Jordon O. Pless, Ransom, son of Patricia and Calvin Duffield

Justin B. Fu, Libertyville, son of Norman and Linda Fu