West Point grads on cross-country bus trip
Myrtle the Turtle, at a crawling pace, made its way down the long gravel driveway in Union last week headed for the fast-moving interstate and a wedding in sunny California.

Myrtle, whose fastest speed is 60 miles per hour going downhill, was passed often. She was not sluggish in spirit.

A 1990 GMC B-6000 and former school bus, Myrtle was filled with five new graduates from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Jeremy Matsumoto, 22, of Union, was among the optimistic crew.

“I’m not worried,” said Matsumoto’s mom, Doreen Beatrice. “They are a resourceful group.”

Matsumoto is a former Ryle High School student who attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia after his sophomore year. That led to four years at West Point where he graduated May 21 with a degree in mechanical engineering.

“Myrtle is really the culmination of a year of hard work. It’s really a culmination of our senior year,” Matsumoto said.

On a summer break in Union last year, Matsumoto discovered Myrtle on Craigslist. The Union native knew the bus would need a little work, so he asked five of his classmates if they’d like to fix up Myrtle and travel the country.

“He didn’t have to do a whole lot of convincing,” said Dan Polanowicz, of Northborough, Massachusetts.

With four mechanical engineering graduates, one electrical engineering graduate and Polanowicz, a political science graduate, on board, there were plenty of ideas how to transform the old bus. Each chipped in $233 and manpower.