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Around The Fleet


New Sailor Explores Both Halves of his Life

His pencil scratches against the paper, the repetitive motion creating shadows and adding depth to his drawing. He's putting the finishing touches on a self-portrait, one that represents both his past and his future.

"My artwork describes my daily thoughts - how I see myself, how I see my life," said Wyatt Coronell, now a brand new Sailor, fresh out of boot camp.

Coronell's self-portrait is divided down the middle of the page: On the side representing his past, he draws himself in front of a brick, urban background, with a tear rolling down his eye. On the other side, he's wearing a naval officer's cover low over his eyes, and a look of determination instead of sadness.

The past he's referenced in his artwork hasn't been an easy one. Coronell spent his childhood growing up on Baltimore's inner city streets, much of it in the city's infamous McCulloh Homes projects, surrounded by gang activity, drugs, violence and murder.

His father died of a heart condition when Coronell was young. Aware of the difficult environment surrounding his family, Coronell's father, a Marine Corps veteran, left Coronell with some advice before he passed: Stay out of trouble and away from negative influences.

It wasn't easy. After his father died, Coronell's mother, a drug addict, abandoned him and his siblings, leaving them to fend for themselves. They even lived in a vacant house with no running water for a time while he still struggled to keep going to school and stay out of trouble.
Three photo collage of Airman Cornell prior to entering his naval service.

"It was hard, I was raising myself," said Coronell. "Didn't nobody really care about me."

One thing pushed Coronell to keep going: He wanted to make his father proud. He stayed away from the gangs and drugs and kept to himself, eventually moving in with an aunt and finishing high school. The next step, to Coronell, was obvious.

"I used to watch the jets fly over my school, and I got interested," he said.

That's when Coronell started working toward the "future" side of his self-portrait: joining the Navy. He knew his father would be proud of him for joining the military, and, most of all, he would be proud of himself.

Before he shipped out to boot camp, Coronell, still 17 years old, said he had big plans for his future and his Navy career.

"I want to become an officer," said Coronell, "I want to buy my own house, start a family, travel, get a degree."

After a challenging and difficult experience at boot camp, he graduated Aug. 25, and is currently in training to become an aviation ordnanceman in Pensacola, Florida.

When asked about his future in the Navy, and how it would feel to wear the uniform he illustrated himself wearing in his self-portrait, Coronell's answer was simple: "I'm going to be proud of myself."

Read more about more about another Sailor's journey here