A U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor administers a Room, Locker and Personnel check to navy officer candidate Kaleb Eddy, left. Contributed / Officer Training Command Newport

When Kaleb Eddy was a little boy growing up in Windham, he showed his mother a picture book about deep-sea diving and told her that’s what he wanted to do.

Sun Eddy didn’t think much more about it after her son grew and began to explore other passions, so she was surprised when he said he was going to become a nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy after graduating from Syracuse University this spring.

“It’s not ideal – being underwater for six months at a time,” said Sun Eddy. Nevertheless, “I just wanted to support him,” she said of her son’s choice to enroll in a physically and mentally grueling 13-week officer training program in Newport, Rhode Island, this summer.

Eddy, a 2017 graduate of Windham High School, was set to complete officer training Sept. 30. He will next join the Navy’s Nuclear Power School in Charleston, South Carolina, where he will prepare for a life at sea. Five years of active duty in the Navy followed by three in the Navy Reserve will be challenging, but rewarding, Eddy said.

“I’m really excited about getting to work on the submarines and start doing something important,” he said.

Having always been interested in science, which influenced his choice to learn aerospace engineering at Syracuse, Eddy was already geared toward the technical aspects of his future job. What proved to be more difficult were the challenges his psyche would have to endure to get there.

“They try to push you to your breaking point,” Eddy said about the first phase of officer training. At one point, he and his classmates had to complete a series of physical repetitions, such as push-ups, while reciting military knowledge verbatim. The exercise was part of a Room, Locker and Personnel inspection, where everything had to be “absolutely perfect.”

In another exercise, Eddy and his close to 100 fellow officer trainees had to stay in a line during a long run with 35-pound sea bags on their backs. “If one person screws something up, everyone is at fault,” he said. “In the same facet, we all share the same successes. It’s a really powerful thing.”

Eddy’s decision to enter the nuclear submarine program was spurred by a random email about naval officer training his sophomore year at Syracuse, a time he said he was “low in spirits” because he had not found an internship.

“I didn’t realize I wanted to do it until I heard about the opportunity,” he said.

His father, a merchant seaman, said he is proud of his son. “I’ve been a commercial fisherman forever,” Timothy Eddy said, and that work gave his son the chance to experience oceanic life before diving in headfirst himself.

“When I came (to officer training) and learned about radar systems, it kind of reminded me of equipment my dad used to use fishing in Portland,” Eddy said.

While he’s excited to travel the world hundreds of feet below sea level, Eddy said he’ll always be fond of familiar waters. “Out of all the places I’ve been, Maine is still my home.”

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