The certificate of appointment to West Point says it all: “On behalf of the President of the United States of America and the United States Military Academy Admissions Committee, I take great pleasure in presenting this certificate of appointment to Mitchell Reed Wollen, Class of 2026.”
“I have always kind of enjoyed the strict structure in school and everyday life,” Wollen said. “My busy schedule of going to school, swimming every night and doing homework after that put me in my place … and serving my country is a great opportunity.
“Another big factor was my uncle Joe. He was a brigadier general in the Army who recently passed away. He always had a big impact on me from a young age, and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
On this day, Ash Wednesday, Wollen posed for a few photos and did a short interview, then handed out programs at Mass, returned to classes after Mass, and would be swimming in the SCC Championships that started at 4:30 p.m. A busy day. A structured day. A Wollen kind of day.
He was part of a school record in the 400 freestyle relay in which Xavier finished first. He also was part of the 200 medley relay team that won and had a second and third in individual events.
On Tuesday night he had gone to the Veterans Home in Rocky Hill. Last summer Wollen built a stand for wood. “Wood For Warriors,” is carved into the top. As is “Freedom Is Never Free. $5 Per Bundle.” He donated eights packs of bottled water, 400 Keurig cups for coffee, 30 gifts cards to Walmart for $10 each, and $200 in cash to the Veterans Home. Previously he had donated $500 to the Navy Seals. All of it was raised by selling those $5 bundles.
Wollen was just a sophomore when the pandemic hit and closed schools in March 2020. Back then he and his family built signs with red hearts that said “Thank You” to all the healthcare and frontline workers. That effort raised thousands of dollars that turned into snacks and meals for all kinds of organizations in Wallingford.
A heart for service in more ways than one.