A collection of the best and brightest high school JROTC members in Wilson County gathered Saturday to hear from Congresswoman Diane Black and others on their quest to attend one of the five U.S. military academies.
In addition to Black, representatives from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Army Military Academy, Naval Academy and Merchant Marine Academy were on hand at Wilson Central High School on Saturday morning to offer information to Wilson County high school JROTC students seeking appointment. Of the five U.S. military academies, four require congressional appointment. The Coast Guard Academy does not.
Black is charged with appointing a limited number of cadets each year to those academies, which are tuition free but require military service beyond graduation.
“It’s a really difficult choice because they have been wanting to do this for quite some time,” Black said. “Military service is one of our greatest honors, but few are raising their hands for service. I commend you for raising your hand and wanting to serve your country.”
Each academy’s representative then gave specific instructions on requirements, as well as what sets their academy or branch of service apart from the others.
Col. Amy Cox, representing the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., gave each class of high school students present a rundown of where they should be both academically and in the application process.
“You are going to be the next generation of leaders,” Cox told the JROTC students.
Air Force Academy Cadet 2nd Class Austin Hornsby gave the applicants and their parents a look at what it takes to be a cadet.
“I committed because I want to serve,” Hornsby said. “I want to fly.”
Representing the lone U.S. military academy not requiring congressional appointment, U.S. Coast Guard admissions partner Bob Gerken said out of eight appointments to the Coast Guard Academy from Tennessee last year, four are from Middle Tennessee.
Fewer than ½ of 1 percent of all Americans attend military academies in the U.S.
The event was highlighted by an appearance by the 129th Army Band of the Tennessee Army National Guard, which played the National Anthem during the posting of colors by members of the Wilson Central JROTC, as well as each branch of the military’s song during the presentations. Wilson Central JROTC instructor Maj. Brian Jimenez played host to the event.
According to Black, applications for U.S. military academy nominations are due to her office by Oct. 15. For more information, go to black.house.gov.