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Dobbins Airman to Academy cadet

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lauren Douglas
  • 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A Dobbins Aerial Port Airman has been appointed to the United States Air Force Academy class of 2020.

Senior Airman Daniel Carpenter, 80th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation journeyman, recently received the news of his acceptance into USAFA, a U.S. service academy that educates and trains cadets to become Air Force officers.

“I’m still kind of speechless about it,” Carpenter said. “I know it’s going to be really challenging, because of the combination of military lifestyle while going through a rigorous academic course, but to me it’s worth it. I like the challenge in knowing that there’s going to be the reward of being an officer and hopefully being a pilot.”

Carpenter is currently a traditional reservist responsible for physically loading and unloading cargo and passengers into aircraft at Dobbins ARB.

“I started working with aerial delivery packing parachutes for the C-130 [700th Airlift] squadron,” said Carpenter. “My favorite part was actually going out and seeing the parachutes that you’ve worked on in action.”
Carpenter’s 80th APS squadron mates echoed his sentiments regarding his dedication to his job and endeavor to attend the Air Force Academy.

“He’s incredibly motivated in everything he does,” said Senior Airman Emmalee Porter, 80th APS air transportation journeyman. “He always gives 100 percent. He’s very knowledgeable and remembers everything he hears or reads. There’s really not anything that he can’t do.”

The Air Force Academy is a military university in northern Colorado Springs, Colorado, and comprised of both an Air Force base and service academy. The Academy is led by the superintendent, and consists of the commandant of cadets, the dean of faculty and athletic department. Cadets are organized into squadrons and groups that make up the cadet wing, similar to an Air Force wing.

“It actually wasn’t easy for me to get in,” Carpenter recalled. “I’ve been applying for three years now. I think me joining the Reserve is actually what set me apart.”

Only 16.6 percent of applicants are accepted into the Academy, according to USAFA’s most recently released information from 2014. Candidates must first earn a nomination from a U.S. senator or congressman and then an appointment by the Academy for admission.

“It’s what he has wanted to do since he was little,” said Porter. “Everything that he has done in his life up to this point has been to go to the Academy. He was a member of Civil Air Patrol, NJROTC, an eagle scout, so truly everything that he did was with the Academy in mind and thinking, ‘What can I do to make myself look better to go to the Academy?’”

Carpenter gained entry into the Academy through the Leaders Encouraging Airman Development Program. The LEAD Program is an ongoing effort to give our enlisted Airmen the opportunity to excel by offering them appointments into USAFA. There are 170 appointments available for the Academy and Academy Prep School for regular and reserve Airmen. Commanders have the opportunity to identify outstanding and deserving airmen with officer potential for this commissioning program.

“You apply initially much like a regular college, but once they seriously consider you as a candidate, you have to go through a chain of command to get approval,” explained Carpenter. “There are local liaison officers. One of the ones I worked with was a retired pilot for the 700th APS, Lt. Col. Charles Pickett. I met with him during a UTA and he helped me a lot with the process.”

“He’s literally half my age and calls me dad,” said Senior Airman John Sherman, 80 Aerial Port Squadron air transportation journeyman. “I’m very proud of him. I know how hard he worked on this process.”

Approximately 900 to 1,000 cadets graduate each year, which equates to about an 80% graduation rate.

“A lot of Airmen don’t know about commissioning programs,” said Carpenter. “I encourage anybody to go out and try. Do your research and put forth your best effort, whether it’s the Academy, ROTC, or OTS [officer training school].”

President Barack Obama is scheduled to be the commencement speaker for the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2016 graduation ceremony June 2 at Falcon Stadium.

Sherman said, “I told him, whenever he is done in four years, wherever in the world I happen to be, I will fly there to see him at his graduation.”

“I look forward to progressing through the Air Force, said Carpenter. “Coming in as an enlisted man shows one side, getting to go through and have this perspective, but then know the entire officer side I think it provides a lot of opportunity and insight to help me lead wherever I go.”

Carpenter reports to basic training June 30.