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Billings woman returning from the US Naval Academy for the holidays



Billings, Montana – Growing up, Emma Martinsen was always a high achiever even though she wasn’t always aware that she wanted to attend the USNA.

Thus, it made logical that she would consider joining the military as a junior at Billings Senior High School, having had a USNA Midshipman visit one of her classes and speak.

“I’ve always liked and enjoyed the idea of serving,” Emma, now a junior at the USNA, said on Sunday. “I’m in one of the newer majors, Foreign Area Studies, and then I’m also minoring in Chinese.”

Sam, her father, recollects the day she approached him and expressed her desire to join the USNA.

“I remember I was sitting right here (on the couch) when she was a junior in high school, and she was standing right over here, and she says, ‘Papa, I think I’m going to try to get into the U.S. Naval Academy.’ And literally, it brought tears to my eyes,” Sam said.

Having spent two years in the Marine Corps, he said he was happy that Emma had decided to enlist. He had never imagined that his daughters would follow in his footsteps.

“She’s always been a go-getter, just from the youngest age,” he said.

Georgie, Emma’s mother, concurred with Sam’s assessment of her daughter and added that her daughter also possesses “grit.”

Emma is one of three inhabitants of Billings who are presently enrolled in the USNA as midshipmen. She is a diligent and committed young lady who joined the Glee Club at the academy. Her path to Montana was not an easy one.

“I was adopted from China in August of 2002 when I was about 9 months old,” Emma said.

Emma was adopted from China at a different time than her older sister.

“We thought that it would be a good thing for Abby (Emma’s sister) to have a sister who understood her story. When we were in China, we got her on video (saying), ‘I’m a big sister now.’ So they’ve always gotten along really well,” Georgie said.

Emma and Abby traveled a lot when they were little. Since Sam is a retired Law Enforcement Ranger with the National Park Service, the girls lived in several states and even abroad for a bit when they were growing up.

Emma was able to spend Thanksgiving at home with her family and friends for the first time in years. Emma is going to talk with high school students in Billings about the USNA, and early next week the Martinsens will be heading to New Mexico to meet Abby.

“It provides a really great experience,” Emma said.


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