Former Jackson County athletes serving in the U.S. military


On this and every July 4, we celebrate the birth of a nation and those who keep our liberties safe each and every day in the United States of America.

The Tribune asked former county athletes serving in the U.S. military how sports prepared them for the military and influenced the people they are today.

The men and women in this article are currently serving our country.

Adam Michael Davis

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U.S. Army second lieutenant, commissioned as an active-duty Army officer May 5, 2017

Seymour High School, 2013

Sports: Soccer (four years), track and field (four years)

Commissioning source was ROTC while attending the University of Kentucky. Certifications include basic airborne course and aerial delivery materials officer course. Now an aerial delivery platoon leader in Germany supporting U.S. and allied forces in Europe and Africa through a variety of airborne operations.

“I joined the military because I saw it as the best avenue through which I could simultaneously serve others and develop myself as a leader. The desire to serve and self-develop took root while playing sports at Seymour High School. Coach Matt Dennis (soccer) and coach Randy Fife (track) both fostered environments where being a good teammate and leader were priorities. My teammates at Seymour provided a safe climate where failure was welcomed as long as development from that failure followed. The Tormoehlen brothers (Luke and Jack) and fellow Army Officer Jordan Hartman are three of the many people that come to mind when thinking of those who played critical roles in my evolution as a person both on and off the field. My teachers at Seymour also deserve a shoutout because I believe that athletic success starts in the classroom. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my parents as key players in my athletic career because of their unconditional love and support. Seymour athletics taught me how to follow, lead and pursue goals all while being a good teammate. These characteristics have transitioned into my Army career as I follow superiors, lead soldiers and continuously strive to better my Army team. At the end of the day, it wasn’t records or times or goals scored that made me proud to be an Owl. What gave me pride in being an Owl were the people I suffered through loss with, celebrated with while victorious and worked tirelessly with in between. Those teammates and coaches collectively made me the Army officer I am today.”

Brandi Jean “Bran” Lanning

Indiana Army National Guard (active Guard Reserve, active duty for the National Guard), staff sergeant, 14 years of service, deployed three times — twice to Iraq and once to Kuwait

Crothersville High School, 2002

Sports: Basketball (four years), volleyball (four years), cheerleading (four years), track and field (four years), softball (one year)

“My uncle, Steven Smith, was in the active Army, and I always tried on his uniforms, and my grandma had pictures of him that she would show me. He was an influence to me to join the military. I joined the Indiana Army National Guard Feb. 21, 2004. I always had coaches that expected a lot out of me and my teammates. All the way back to middle school basketball, our coach, Brad Gossett, and our high school coach, Dan Wright, would push us to put forth our best efforts with no relent. It was instilled into us to work hard, no matter the situation. Dan would meet me on Saturday and Sunday to shoot at the gym. He would run me through drill after drill until I couldn’t miss. These coaches, mentors not only put us through lessons in the court, they gave us life lessons we will use for the rest of our lives. They taught us how to be selfless, how to be a leader, how to take care of those we love and how to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. This has carried over into the military. We train and reiterate drills into our heads and muscle memory to ensure we’re the best because it could mean life or death. Like in sports, all situations have a time limit. They don’t last forever, and I give 120 percent into any event, task or competition I’m involved. I didn’t join the military solely for myself. I joined because of those I love.

“My mom, Vickie Anderson, and my grandma, Sharon Smith, were and still are models of hard work, and they’re definitely the ones that set me up for success the most in my life. My mom would not only voice that I had to work hard to get places in life, she showed me, and she still does. I credit all my abilities and successes to both of them in my life. Without them, I’d be lost. For those I love, I will sacrifice. The military helped guide me to where I am today. The military gave me a resource to be successful. I will retire in 10 years with a full 20 years of active service. This gives me a chance to take what I’ve done and learned in the military and apply it to my next career adventure, whatever that shall be. I have a few years to figure that out. I’m very passionate about the military due to all it has given me in my life. If you have an inkling to serve, let your nearest recruiter know.”

Jordan Todd Hartman

U.S. Army second lieutenant, 10 months

Seymour High School, 2013

Sports: Soccer (four years), swimming (four years)

“Even within the first year of my service in the Army, I have come to realize how much Seymour High School athletics helped prepare me for this chapter of my life. As a United States officer, I am held to a higher standard than most other jobs. I need to be on time with everything I do, lead fearlessly and relentlessly and have good character even when not in uniform. Both my soccer coach, Matt Dennis, and my swim coach, Dave Boggs, both helped instill in me the character traits the Army requires. Those three-a-day soccer practices in late July, early August helped prepare me for the physical grind of basic training, while the early morning swim practices from October to February gave me the mental fortitude needed in order to deal with the hardships of the Army. My teammate, Adam Davis, another former athlete and current military member, influenced who I am today. He was there to celebrate the close victories, get past the tough losses and picked me back up on my feet during training. I also credit my former swim teammates Reed McKinney and Luis Garcia. They taught me to try and take a difficult situation and make the best out of it and have fun. This is especially useful for when I am trying to motivate my guys to complete a task assigned to us. Overall, I wouldn’t be the man I am today without God, past coaches and teammates and family.”

Alexis Monae Keller

Navy E-3 hospital corpsman, one year of service Aug. 9

Trinity Lutheran High School, 2017

Sports: Volleyball (one year), basketball (two years), track and field (three years), soccer (three years), swimming (one year)

“I always know I am making the right decision when my gut feeling does not question my actions. The strongest gut feeling I have ever had was knowing I should join. I have never really had just one reason why, though it’s a question I get asked all the time, besides the obligation I somehow felt to serve. Athletics did help me form self-disciplinary attributes before boot camp. Your coaches cannot do everything for you. That translated well into military life. Another similar aspect between sports and the Navy was knowing how to be independent and a team at the same time. My track coach, Caleb Tormoehlen, was the one who recommended I look into the Navy because I was seeking a medical career. I could not be happier with my decision to join and can’t wait to see where the Navy will take me.”

Joseph Alexander Martinez

U.S. Army, sergeant, five years

Brownstown Central High School, 2011

Sports: Football (four years), frack and field (two years)

“I come from a long line of military men and was always interested in joining the Army. I went to college for a year following high school before I decided to do what I had wanted to all along. I enlisted as a medic and have had the privilege of traveling the world, including two combat tours. Sports prepared me for the military more than I realized, especially playing football for coach Reed May. He stressed the importance of working as a team and everyone’s job, big or small, needed to be accomplished in order for us to succeed. The same thing applies for my job in the military and has always led me to appreciate the discipline, motivation and structure that coach May provided us.”

Justin Tyler Kiel

U.S. Navy, petty officer 2nd class, five years

Seymour High School, 2004

Sport: Football (four years)

“After graduating from Indiana State University and entering the workforce, I grew to miss the camaraderie that I experienced from being on a team. Joining the Navy allowed me to fill that void while gaining skills and experience that are unparalleled to any school or job that I’ve had. I am now a Navy recruiter in the area because I want to help other people achieve their goals and live a purposeful life. If you are between ages 17 and 39 and interested in learning more about the Navy, call me at 812-646-5031.”

Lacy Kathryn Bierman

U.S. Navy, FC1 (SW) – Fire Controlman First Class (E-6), 6 years, currently stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Seymour High School, 2012

Swimming (four years), baseball manager (one year)

“I joined the military to travel and meet new people. I am very comfortable going to new places and experiencing different things. Sports helped me understand and appreciate the team aspect. In the military, everything is a team effort. It’s not about going home at the end of the day. It’s about getting the person next to you home and trusting that they will get you home. Coach Jeremy Richey was a major influence on me because he took a fledgling program and made it something great and respected. He had a new way of thinking to the Seymour baseball program and everyone bought in on how he wanted to run things, which is why they have succeeded ever since.”

Nathaniel Everett Martin

U.S. Army, Private First Class, 1 year of service

Brownstown Central High School, 2015

Football (three years), track and field (two years)

“Growing up in a family with a very long line of military history, I witnessed firsthand the sense of pride that comes with serving. Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to serve. My experiences with sports helped prepare me for the military in a sense of being on time, doing your best with everything you do and be both physically and mentally disciplined. The military is also similar to sports with the sense of brotherhood. I’m currently stationed at Fort Wainwright just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. I’m an avionics mechanic, so I’m able to work with all of the electrical components for the helicopters. I love my job, and I look forward to many more years with the Army.”

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