Learning to swim: Hazel Lancaster

Hazel Lancaster taking the MEPS oath.

Hazel Lancaster taking the MEPS oath.

Some associate honor and strength with going into the Armed Forces of this country, but others see it as an opportunity. The military lifestyle isn’t for everyone but one jumped into the deep end as their next step after high school. Graduation is right around the corner and Hazel Lancaster finally found the calling they’ve been looking for. 


Before the final decision, Lancaster found callings in a plethora of different choices.

Before choosing the Navy, what did you want to go to college for? Did you have a dream job when you were younger?

 “In elementary school, I wanted to be a pilot because I used to fly planes. I used to fly planes with some old people over at the airport in North Delta. But as I grew up, I thought of careers in engineering or mechanical design, more specifically something with numbers. 


Why not any other branch of the Armed Forces?

“I was gonna go into the Air Force but I like the fact that the Navy is all on the coast. It was also the most interesting branch.” 


Why did you choose such a career jump, from in the air to underwater?

In the Air Force, I wanted to be an Air Traffic Control person, but in reality, my depth perception is very bad. To become a pilot, you have to become an officer, and to become an officer, you have to go to college. I didn’t want to go to college to become a pilot so I settled on submarines.”


How did your interest in the Navy start? Did any childhood experiences influence your decision?

“It was a spontaneous decision in the end, but I always knew that the military was an option. The branch of the military was the bigger decision. I think one thing that influenced me was seeing the air show [Tribute to Aviation Show] at the Montrose Airport. The Navy booth there was also something I thought was interesting. Oh, and Blue Angels, seeing them was pretty cool.”

Lancaster grew up going to the Tribute to Aviation Show at the Montrose Regional Airport where they not only let you explore the inside of plenty of impressive aircraft, from medical helicopters to military-grade aircraft and equipment. This is not only how she was introduced to a passion for aviation but also lead her to the Armed Forces career idea.

How was the process of applying to the Navy?

I started doing research on recruiters in my area and at first looking at the jobs, I wanted to be a Sonar Tech but chose not to because it isn’t a good career after the Navy. I decided on Information Technician, you install and upgrade complex computer systems. The process involved a lot of conversations about medical procedures and the dos and don’ts of MEPS[Military Entrance Processing Stations]. But the people I conversed with were interested in helping me with the whole process. ”


How do you plan on balancing this new life?

“Hopefully I enjoy enlisting enough that I want to make it a career instead of just my initial contract of 6 years. I think I will miss Colorado but I will be doing cool things in cool places that I think I am fine.”


Lancaster’s mother, Jennifer Lancaster, looks back at old pictures of her child and wonders what her future would look like. With pictures ranging from a pair of twins napping to flying planes of all shapes and sizes.

Did you ever think one of your children would go into the Armed Forces? Did they do anything or were interested in anything that would lead to this decision?

“She was in CAP [Civil Air Patrol] when she was younger. I thought out of any of my kids, Hazel would be the one to go into the Navy. She enjoys things in order so I think it will be an easy adjustment.”


Do you have any worries or fears?

“It’s my job to raise my kids to be productive people in society, but the fears aren’t something you should focus on. But overall, I’m excited for her.”

Lancaster, Freshmen year, still doing her passion of aviation.
Graduation day for Civil Air Patrol.