A 2004 Rio Vista High School graduate’s career is taking off across the country and half a globe away.
Andrew Maddox, 27, recently graduated at the top of his class from Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, serving as class president and as regimental commander.
The newly commissioned Navy Ensign O-1 is the son of Dr. Barney Maddox and Mary Ellen Maddox of Cleburne.
“He was first in his class of 400 and the Navy Officer Candidate School has a lot of smart people in it,” Barney Maddox said. “So a lot of them were college graduates and had career goals in the Navy and things like that.
“Andrew had a leg up on others because of his combat experience in Iraq. Combat experience is respected, and he was highly respected as soon as he went in to OCS.”
Andrew Maddox joined the Marine Corps shortly after graduating from Rio Vista High School. By his second tour, he had taught himself Arabic — both written and spoken — and served as a sniper and translator between the Americans and Iraqis,
After four years in the Marines, Maddox set his sights on college, something he hadn’t been interested in at first, thanks to his brother Kristoffer’s colorful stories of his tours of duty with the corps.
“I couldn’t sit in class at that point in time,” Andrew Maddox said.
After the Marines, he decided he was determined to earn a college degree.
“He was a pretty good student in elementary school and probably in middle school, but by the time he got to high school, he was pretty lax about it,” mom Mary Ellen Maddox said. “He was just more interested in being cool and football and all that kind of stuff. He didn’t really seem to be that interested in school, although he always talked about going to college. He put that off for four years. He grew up a lot in those four years and was able to get his mind focused on what it needed to be.”
Summer of 2013 was good to Maddox who not only graduated from OCS but also from the University of Texas at Arlington with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering.
“I was intimidated by engineering,” he said. “But I walked into the [counseling] office and my Marine Corps discipline kicked in. I said, ‘We’ll take this one step at a time and get through this.’
“ ... It’s a pretty simple process. You just do it. You turn off your phone and just do it.”
His mother said she is proud of her son for getting his college degree, graduating at the top of his OCS class and is excited for the next step of his life.
He headed to flight school in Pensacola, Fla., last week.
“Even when we was a little bitty kid, he talked about wanting to be like Chuck Yeager, the famous test pilot,” Mary Ellen Maddox said. “He took flying lessons even when he was a pretty young kid and then got his pilots’ licence when he was a little bit older.”