MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Each year, the United States Air Force Academy selects 240 young men and women for its preparatory school to earn a spot at their prestigious academy.
Airman 1st Class Antonio Cruz, a 6th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, was one of those selected this year to attend USAFA’s preparatory school in July.
“Airman 1st Class Cruz is a highly motivated Airman that showed a lot of initiative when he got to MacDill's Weather Flight,” said Tech. Sgt. Derrick Smit, the 6th OSS unit deployment manager and Cruz’s supervisor. “This played a huge factor in his ability to get high caliber endorsements when submitting his package for enrollment into the prep school.”
It is a distinct honor because according to USAFA, after being established on April 1, 1954, it has commissioned more than 50,689 second lieutenants as of 2018 and ranks in the U.S. top five in multiple career fields.
The academy’s revered past of molding leaders makes it highly sought after with candidates competing for admission annually.
“This has been a goal of mine since speaking to a pilot here about commissioning during his weather briefing,” said Cruz. “That conversation opened my eyes to a plethora of opportunities for me that weren’t available to me before and now I can’t wait to start.”
The preparatory school is located six miles south from USAFA’s main cadet area in Colorado Springs, Colorado and prepares cadet candidates in academics, athletics, character development and military training to succeed at USAFA. The coursework is fast-paced and challenging to reflect how competitive it is.
Completing the 10-month prep school program gives Cruz a step up above his competition when applying to the academy for admission.
“I feel like being in the Air Force for two years now has grounded me and given me a skillset to do well in this competitive environment,” said Cruz. “But I know in order to succeed, I must be tireless with my effort and commitment.”
To become a USAFA cadet, prep school students need to succeed in academics and military training, pass a candidate fitness test, exhibit strong ethical character, receive the recommendation of the preparatory school’s commander and be approved by the academy board.
Upon graduation from the prep school and acceptance into USAFA, the journey would be another four years to become an officer in the Air Force.
“I think his selection highlights the quality of Airmen within the Air Force weather career field,” said Smit. “But most importantly, it showcases how Airman 1st Class Cruz has been an asset and exemplary Airman so far in his young Air Force career.”