OHIO — The Main Street Beach in Vermilion is just steps away from Anthony Laurio’s childhood home.
“Everybody really knows everybody," he said.
While he loved growing up here, the 21-year-old always had hopes of moving up and on to explore somewhere far, far away.
“Small town on a big lake" is how he describes his hometown.
“Definitely had bigger dreams and want to get out there and pursue them,” he said.
But he never knew his love for computers and space could turn into a real-life out-of-this-world opportunity.
“I had built my first computer when I was about 14," Laurio said. “I wasn’t really sure growing up that I’d ever be an astronaut or anything, but I always found space very interesting and joining the Space Force really allows me to kind of mesh the two things that I love.”
The recent Bowling Green State University graduate is wasting no time blasting off into his future by following in the footsteps of family members who have served our country.
“Two Army, one Navy, one Marines,” he explained. And now, one in the U.S. Space Force. “Yes. Making history."
The U.S. Space Force is the newest branch of the armed forces and the first new service branch in 72 years.
It didn’t even exist when Second Lt. Laurio joined the ROTC Air Force Program at BGSU in 2018.
“I thought it was going to be an amazing opportunity, getting in on the ground floor of a brand new military branch, which doesn’t happen every day," he said.
Laurio is one of four people selected right out of college from across the country to serve as a developmental engineer in the U.S. Space Force.
“I think that’s one of the great bonuses of it is that there’s so much unknown and a lot for me to explore,” Laurio said.
It’s not just one small step for Laurio, it’s one giant leap for BGSU.
“They really just set you up for success," he said referring to his education at BGSU.
Although he doesn’t know exactly when, but he will soon move across the country to serve at the Los Angeles Air Force Base.
“Want to get out there and see the world," Laurio said. "See what the world has to offer.”
It’s a big change that's full of uncertainty and possibility. And that excites him.
“I’d really hope to end up in space at least once in my lifetime," he said.
It’s a huge honor for the university and Laurio is paving the way for future Falcons by being the first to enlist in the Space Force.
To put it in perspective of just how competitive it is, nationwide only 151 ROTC graduates entering the Space Force in various positions this year.
“We commission thousands of new officers into the Air Force every year. So that 151 individuals and then to narrow it down to one of four in developmental software engineering, it’s just a testament to the caliber of student that Anthony is," said Captain Matthew Fagan, Operations Flight Commander at the AFROTC Detachment 620 at BGSU.
Fagan said the Space Force isn’t just about the future, it’s about preserving life as we know it.
“In reality, Space Force is, it’s addressing a problem that we know is there. Everything that we do, the fact that we’re on this call right now, it’s a product of satellites," Fagan said during a virtual interview. "It’s a product of space capabilities and to protect our way of life we have to have young men like Anthony step up and fill those roles.”
Laurio credits his support system for helping him along the way.
He said his family, his fiance and BGSU made it all possible.
He will be heading out to L.A. with his fiance as soon as he gets the call to serve.