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Port Charlotte man set to become a naval officer

A Port Charlotte High School graduate will soon become a leader in the U.S. Navy. He’s missed Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family while training and facing a number of challenges. This is a man many say has always put others first.

The training to become a Navy man is grueling and to become a naval officer even more so.

“It’s a very unique place,” O.A. Tyler Harless said. “Very demanding physically, mentally, emotionally.”

Harless, a Port Charlotte native, was in law school when he started providing legal help for veterans. That’s when he decided he wanted to become a naval aviator himself.

“I’ve always loved planes, always loved aviation, so I figured why not get paid to learn how to do it all?” Harless said.

The Port Charlotte grad is days away from graduating from Naval Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island. Only 1,600 people graduate each year. He will soon become an ensign, the first commissioned officer rank.

“He was one of those people that would do anything you asked of him just to help the team,” said David Hoffer, a former head football coach at Port Charlotte High School.

Hoffer told us before training to take flight, Harless’ leadership shined on the football field. He was the quarterback. He could have cared about his own statistics, but Hoffer told us Harless was a team guy first.

“He was a very selfless person,” Hoffer said. “He put everyone else before his personal needs or wants.”

It’s his love for his country that keeps Harless driven and humble. Harless will graduate from his training next week. Then, he expects to begin his naval career in Pensacola.

“I just feel like I had a calling to serve, and I was ready to do it,” Harless said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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