DEARBORN, Mo. — A North Platte student was recently appointed to the Air Force Academy.
Austin Snook learned last month that his nomination from Congressman Sam Graves was accepted. In fact, Snook received a principal nomination, which helps in securing the appointment.
A principal nominee by a member of congress receives a slot in a service academy and if fully qualified (character and leadership aptitude, academic potential, medical and physical aptitude), he or she will be appointed to fill a slot.
Snook, 18, discovered the path to the military through trips to Dallas with his father and recording artist Matt Snook, at the Snowball Express — a program of the Gary Sinise Foundation. The organization serves the children of fallen military heroes.
“That is where my desire came from in the first place,” Snook said. “I started looking into it more and more and the academy seemed right.”
In fact, Snook learned of his acceptance as he was boarding the plane to come home from Dallas.
Snook started looking into the military appointment in the summer of 2016. Prior to the start of this school year, he visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and it was a good fit.
Snook had considered local colleges, as well as Colorado State, but the visit to Air Force solidified his choice.
He underwent a physical and had to pass a rigorous battery of physical activity tests. Snook didn’t have a minimum number of repetitions to complete but he learned what the average was in pull ups, sit ups and running and sought to better those marks.
A three-sport athlete at North Platte, Snook trained hard to pass the test. He believes that helped him in his training.
“All I was doing was working out,” he said. “I was trying to get into the best shape of my life. That is all I was worried about and it ended up working out.”
Snook will have a commitment to the armed forces after graduation. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and uncle who were both in the military.
He currently hopes to have a career in the Air Force and has an interest in flying.
Snook has been learning a lot from John Bart Owens, the father of one of his classmates, when it comes to planes. Owens has been taking Snook flying and giving him pointers to navigating the skies.
Snook, who resides in Camden Point, was honored by the school for the appointment.
With the help of his mom, Stephanie, and football coach Josh Rodriguez, a surprise party was held at the school.
“He doesn’t like recognition, but we pulled off an all-school assembly to recognize him,” North Plate High School principal Michelle Johnson said.
She noted the school will write letters to him next year to encourage him through his training.
Snook knows he will be pushed by mentally and physically at Air Force.
“It is different than a normal college,” Snook said. “You don’t have class every other day, you have class every day and you are looking at the same thing. I talked to the cadets, they described it as, they do whatever to load your plate every day and push you to the point of stress to help build you into a better person. It really excites me more than it discourages me.”