LAKE PLACID — What a difference a couple years can make! Two years ago, Garrett Lanier of Lake Placid was working at the local Publix store. He was also a member of the high school band, and the JRROTC. Showing goats at the county fair was part of being in FFA. On the weekends, he was off to participate in civil war re-enactments. He was constantly changing uniforms for each of these endeavors.
Anyone who knows Lanier, heard him talk about his dream of one day joining the Navy or the U. S. Coast Guard. He submitted scholarship applications as a senior to various organizations. He was sure to mention his goal of joining the military. So, it was only natural for him to pick a college that would prepare him for that.
After graduating in 2018, he headed to Key West to study Marine Engineering and Seamanship. He continued to work for Publix down there and also Outback Steakhouse. Plus, he joined Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Sigma Alpha Pi (SAP) National Society of Leadership and Success. To zip around Key West, he bought a motor scooter, and found time to get out on the water with his small boat.
Then, on May 4, 2020, without much fanfare due to the COVID-19 situation, he was awarded his Associate Degree from College of the Florida Keys, one of the only state colleges that offers the marine program.
The degrees had to be presented on YouTube, since the Keys were closed to traffic.
College President, Dr. Jonathan Gueverra mentioned Lanier by name and credited him with his involvement on campus and praised his decision to join the U.S. Coast Guard.
On July 14, Lanier was accepted into the Coast Guard and reported to Cape May, New Jersey for his basic training. Again, the coronavirus played a part. Many of his fellow recruits fell ill, so they had to train under quarantine. Anyone who has been through military basic training knows how physically grueling the training is. Imagine doing it under those conditions.
During the 8-week program, Lanier served as a squad leader and a member of the silent drill team. At his graduation ceremony, his team performed a routine in front of the grandstand and all the ‘brass’.’ He was promoted from Seaman Recruit to Fireman, which denotes his future work in the mechanical engineering field.
Following his basic training graduation, Lanier was on a bus headed to the airport, and then on a plane ride to his assignment, Boston, Massachusetts. He is assigned to the 87-foot USCG Cutter, Marlin, which has a 12-man crew.
When he called home to describe his new surroundings, Lanier, who has only been outside of Florida once before, reported to his mom that it was “really cold” up there. It was 60 degrees. Somehow, he didn’t think his windbreaker was going to be enough this winter.
Fireman Lanier is the son of Kerry and Jon Lanier of Lake Placid and the sister of Aubrey Lanier, a 2019 LPHS graduate.