October 10, 2012 Edition

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Bigger settling in at Annapolis

Sully Bigger of Walnut Ridge plays the baritone with the U.S. Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps during the Navy vs. San Jose football game on Sept. 29.
U.S. Naval Academy Photo
Gretchen Hunt

Sully Bigger of Walnut Ridge is approximately two months into his first year as a student at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

In addition to his course load, Bigger is also a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps, in which he plays the baritone.

The son of Jim and Dana Bigger, Sully is a 2012 graduate of Crowley's Ridge Academy in Paragould. He has a younger brother, Jake.

Sully's appointment was announced by Cong. Rick Crawford at CRA on April 13. Crawford nominated him for admission to the academy.

Sully said the academy has proven to be the most challenging thing he has ever done.

"The academics and physical training has pushed me to my limits," he said. "Over the summer we qualified with the M16 rifle and the M11 pistol, ran obstacle and endurance courses and were led in exercises almost every morning."

Prior to the start of classes on Aug. 20, Bigger completed training during the summer.

"Sully reported on June 28 for about seven weeks of 'basic training' called Plebe Summer at the Naval Academy in Annapolis," his mother said, "We visited on Plebe Parent Weekend, August 10-12."

Joining his parents and brother for the trip were his grandparents, Sam and Dianne Burns, and a cousin, Audrey Jane Hicks.

"We watched the new class of 2016 at a formal parade and attended church with Sully at the Naval Academy Chapel, where he sings in the Protestant choir," Dana said.

Sully has committed to four years at the academy and then five years as an officer.

Dana said she misses her son, of course, but that he has already had some terrific experiences.

"He just got back from Colorado - the game against Air Force," she said. "He lives on the banks of both the Severn River and the Chesapeake Bay, in a beautiful hundred-year-old building!"

His mother said that Sully has wanted to go to the Naval Academy since about seventh grade, and he was talking about going into the military even before that.

"One of his former classmates from Hoxie and her mother were talking to Jim one day," Dana said. "When Jim told the mother where Sully was going, she asked, 'Is he ready for that?' Her daughter replied before Jim could, 'Mom, he's been ready for that his whole life.'"

At the announcement of his appointment, Cong. Crawford praised Sully for being the type of individual that the Naval Academy would select.

"It is an honor to represent young men like Sully who embody the hope and purpose that define our great country," he said. "Sully is not only a brilliant student, he also has given much to the community and worked hard for this honor."

Despite the challenges, Sully said he believes he made the right choice.

"I am glad I chose to come here," he said. "The Naval Academy has proven to be challenge I am glad I accepted, I believe it has made me a better person. It has given me the best option for me to serve a country I love."

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