My Turn: A Salute to Those Who Serve
Once every year, I have the honor of nominating outstanding young men and women from across Arizona to serve at each of the United States Service Academies. Making these nominations is a responsibility I take seriously, but it is also a privilege I enjoy greatly.
The selection process is competitive, and only a select few Americans are chosen annually for the academies, at which they will train to become commissioned officers. Now, as I prepare to accept applications for the final set of nominations I will make as a member of the U.S. Senate, I would like to salute those students that I have nominated to the service academies by highlighting just a few of their stories.
Elizabeth Hicks (Camp Verde H.S., 2009). Elizabeth Hicks grew up in South America, where her missionary parents inspired a spirit of service. Impressed by the Air Force Academy’s focus on athletics, morality, service, and academic excellence, Elizabeth decided to attend the academy’s Summer Scientific Seminar. She has since attended its preparatory school and, upon completion of four years at the academy, Hicks will receive a degree in humanities and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Casey Moore (Flowing Wells H.S., 2009). Midshipman Moore was a well-rounded high school student, a cello section leader in her school orchestra, and a competitor in swimming, soccer, and tennis before she applied to the Merchant Marine Academy. She has now completed her year at sea, and is currently focused on a degree in marine engineering. While not required to serve in active duty after graduation, she may consider a position in the U.S. Coast Guard with a focus on ship inspection. Military service runs in her family; one of her sisters is also a Merchant Marine Academy graduate, and another sister recently graduated from the Air Force Academy.
Amy Santmyer Young (Cactus Shadows H.S., 1988). After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Lieutenant Colonel Young became the first American woman to participate in Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training. Now a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours of flying time, Lt. Colonel Young has logged more than 700 combat hours in direct support of operations in the Balkans and in the Middle East – and she has earned 11 Air Medals in the process. She completed a Master’s degree in aeronautical science with a specialization in aeronautics while deployed in Iraq, and is currently serving as a T-6 instructor pilot.
Chad Kulp (Parker H.S., 2006). Ensign Kulp graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2010 and is now in the process of completing his Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training as he pursues a lifelong Navy career. He recently received his SEAL Trident pin after successfully completing SEAL Qualification Training.
Alexander Brammer (Horizon H.S., 2005). After completing basic training, Sergeant Brammer attended Army Ranger School with about 40 West Point graduates. He was impressed by their motivation, precision, and calmness in the face of great adversity. While serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brammer obtained a more intimate understanding of officer leadership, a major factor in his decision to apply to West Point. He is currently ranked 6th in his class, is majoring in economics, and may consider applying for rotary-wing pilot training.
Zachary Affrin (University H.S., 2011). As the son of an immigrant, Zach Affrin is no stranger to hard work or overcoming adversity. When Affrin did not receive an appointment from his preferred academy, he immediately reapplied and was offered a preparatory school scholarship by the West Point Association of Graduates. He has since received a fully qualified offer of appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point – another reason why he and his family truly believe in the American Dream.
My office is currently accepting nomination applications for the graduating Class of 2017 (the deadline to apply is Oct. 4). In addition, Congressman Ben Quayle and I will be hosting a Service Academies conference this coming April 28 in Phoenix. To RSVP, please visit http://kyl.senate.gov/rsvp.
Jon Kyl is the junior U.S. senator from Arizona.