Two Alumni Find Special Connection in NJ Army National Guard

With over 8,000 guardsmen and hundreds of recruits in the New Jersey Army National Guard (NJARNG), it is not easy to find a quick connection to someone from the same high school.

However when Doug Coppola ’01 was recruiting for the NJARNG in 2015, he found a fellow Academy man in the crowd of cadets: Peter Schepel ’12.

“I was assigned at Fort Knox and somehow Peter and I began talking,” Coppola said. “During our conversation, I found out that Peter and I were both from Colts Neck, both went to St. Leo the Great and both graduated from CBA. I asked Peter if he knew about the National Guard or about the Finance Corps. I was able to recruit a high caliber leader like Peter to join my unit upon his commissioning.”

Coppola has worked in the NJARNG’s 50th Financial Management Support Unit for the past 15 years, which is a perk of the National Guard in that a guardsman does not have to move. At that chance meeting in 2015, Schepel was Cadet from the Rutgers ROTC Program, looking towards what he was going to do after graduation.

“Before graduating ROTC, you can pick your top-three branches,” Schepel said. “I happened to come across Major Coppola and he mentioned to me that he was in the Finance branch, and that I should come join his unit once I commissioned. So after I returned from that training, I applied to be admitted to the NJARNG in the 50th Finance.”

Fast forward to today, Coppola is in his second year as Major in command of 50th Finance, while Schepel is serving as a leader in the Headquarter & Headquarters Detachment within the 50th.

As a Finance unit, their mission is to rapidly deploy as part of the crisis response force by air, sea or land to provide financial management support for joint and combined operations. They could be deployed anywhere in the world during these responses.

Unsurprisingly, both men believe that CBA was a big reason why they were ready to take on these challenges in the National Guard.

“CBA instilled in me a good moral compass, coupled with my parents great upbringing, that stuck with me throughout my adult experiences,” Coppola said. “CBA also helped me develop a healthy attitude towards competition and camaraderie.”

And while he has only spent a few years in the Guard, Schepel has noticed the same similarities between CBA and the values of the armed forces.

“As in the military, CBA emphasizes the common goal of the group as opposed to the individual, which certainly leads Academy men to numerous academic and athletic achievements,” Schepel said. “Additionally, CBA graduates learn to promote selfless service and commitment to duty.”

About Christian Brothers Academy:
Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) is a private, Catholic, academic preparatory school for boys located in Lincroft, New Jersey. Founded in 1959 and taught in the Lasallian tradition, CBA is dedicated to helping students become intellectually mature and morally responsible leaders for society. Through the combined efforts of the Office of Advancement and friends of the Academy, CBA awards over $1.5 million in scholarships and financial aid to current students. Experience the Academy at