Family Allegiances Split in Army-Navy Battle
The annual Army-Navy football game is a tradition many sports fans enjoy. But the game – and the friendly rivalry between the two branches of the U.S. armed forces – holds special meaning for one Henrico family.
Henrico resident Matthew Fiorelli is a freshman at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. with big plans of serving his country.
“Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to attend a service academy," he said. "As a kid growing up, I looked up to my dad, my grandfathers, my uncles, and others who had served our country in the armed forces,” Fiorelli said.
Fiorelli's brother, Michael, is a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Both students were raised in a household heavy with Navy influences – their father, Jim, a former Henrico School Board member, attended the Naval Academy and spent 24 years in the navy – and it surprised even Matthew when he eventually sought to enroll at West Point instead of heading for the navy.
“I chose to attend the Military Academy rather than the Naval Academy because I wanted to become an Army officer, and that was the door that God opened for me after high school,” he said.
As youngsters, both brothers watched the Army-Navy game annually with their dad, even dressing up in navy gear.
“From the time they were young, they were interested [in serving],” Jim Fiorelli said.
This year was the first time that both brothers attended the game (played Dec. 11 in Philadelphia) as cadets.
“We were both looking forward to the Army-Navy game, and there was definitely some smack talking going on over Thanksgiving Break,” said Matthew.
Bragging rights – for the ninth straight year – remain with Michael and his father, as Navy won the game 31-17.
Even though he rooted against the Army in the annual game all his life, Jim said he and his wife are very excited for both their sons.
“Jan and I are proud. We’re excited for them to have great experiences and meet wonderful people,” he said.
Matthew Fiorelli received his appointment to West Point in October of his senior year at Freeman High School in 2009. He accepted in March 2010 and started six weeks of basic training as a cadet in June.
During the academic year, he has a strict schedule. His day starts at 6:50 a.m., when all the cadets line up and march to breakfast. Classes last from 7:30 a.m. to about noon, followed by lunch formation and then classes until 4 p.m.
“In the afternoon, we typically have intramurals, which each cadet is required to participate in if they are not on a core or club squad team, or we have unit training time – military training of some sorts,” he said. Although the program is tough, Matthew said he enjoys being productive and the challenges each day brings.
“West Point provided me the possibility of an extremely unique and purposeful experience," he said. "Also, an opportunity to receive training to become an army officer, which was my end goal.”
After graduating from West Point, the cadets must serve at least five years of active duty in the army and three years in the reserves. Fiorelli plans to become an infantry officer or helicopter pilot.
Jim Fiorelli said that the boys demonstrated normal, healthy competitiveness growing up two and a half years apart but said they are very involved today in what the other is doing.
“Matthew has always been Michael’s biggest fan,” he said.
Matthew Fiorelli concurred.
“He gave me some really good advice before I began at the academy, which has really helped me through,” he said of his older brother. Matthew hopes to participate in an exchange program in the navy during his junior year to compare it to his experiences at West Point.
Although he took a different route then his father and brother, the inspiration behind joining the military academy is still close to home. “My dad inspired me to join the military through his actions and service to our country," Matthew said. “Although he exposed us to the military at a very young age, he never prompted me to join or encouraged me to follow in his footsteps.”
“I’m really proud and pleased that they care enough about our country and understand the importance of military service,” Jim Fiorelli said of his sons.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.
A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”
The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.
The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.
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