Many teens, away at college, feel like something is missing from their life. Anthony Caldarone was no different. Unlike many, though, he knew what that something was — the U.S. Navy.

“I’d always wanted to serve the country, and at some point, I always knew I would,” Caldarone said. “I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t do it.”

Caldarone, 21, is a 2015 Trumbull High graduate currently undergoing training in nuclear engineering in Charleston after graduating #2 in his Basic Training class of 636. He said it was about a year ago that he told his parents that he was leaving the University of Vermont, where he was a Dean’s List student, to join the Navy.

“It kind of came out of the blue, but they took it right in stride,” he said. “They’ve always been very supportive, and they knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Immediately after reporting for Basic Training, Caldarone said he knew he had made the right decision.

“I just determined that whatever we were doing, I would take it seriously and do the best I could,” he said.

Always a good student, he aced the book and interview portions of training. He also learned to like the physical aspects, as the combination of hearty Navy chow and rigorous daily workouts packed lean pounds onto his formerly skinny frame, straining his uniform allowance.

“We got fitted for all of our uniforms early in training, and some guys lose 20 pounds between fitting and graduation,” he said. “I kind of went the other way.”

Despite leaving college for the Navy, Caldarone has plenty of school ahead of him. Currently a month into his engineering studies, Caldarone has 17 more months of training ahead of him, most of it in South Carolina.

“The heat and humidity down here take getting used to, but on the other hand the beaches are great,” he said.

Assuming he completes his studies in nuclear engineering, the next step will be a four-year fleet assignment, probably in a nuclear submarine.

“Aircraft carriers are like a small, floating city,” he said. “The submarine community is much smaller and closer-knit. That’s what I would prefer. Plus, there’s always a chance I could be assigned to the sub base in Groton, and it would be nice to be stationed close to home.”

One additional aspect of Caldarone’s chosen field is that his enlistment is unusually long — six years. This was necessary to ensure that the Navy wouldn’t spend two years training him only to see him take a lucrative job in the civilian world.

“It was definitely a big decision to sign on for six years, but I was confident,” he said. “I knew it would pay off in the end.”