Up into the wild blue yonder | RecordCourier.com

Up into the wild blue yonder

by Trent Carruthers

Along the wall outside the lobby in Douglas High School are several students’ drawings of famous people’s portraits. Directly below the drawings are the people’s inspirational words.

One quote on the wall that caught the attention of senior Bradley Johnson came from World War II U.S. Army General George S. Patton.

“Always do more than is required of you.”

Patton and Johnson share the same philosophy. While the general’s many heroic accomplishments came on the battlefield, Johnson’s achievements have come in the classroom and wrestling mat. But some day his achievements might come during a time of conflict on a foreign battlefield.

Johnson, who carries a 3.94 GPA, is applying for admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He leaped a big admission hurdle recently when U.S. Congressman Jim Gibbons nominated him to serve the nation at the prestigious military academy. The honor student will learn in April if he gets accepted into the academy. Applying for the competitive open cadet positions, requires him to write numerous essays and take several physical aptitude tests.

“I come from an Air Force family and look forward to serving my country at the academy,” said Johnson, whose father Richard and brother Ben are in the Air National Guard. “I believe in always doing my best. It’s about a feeling of personal achievement and seeing the rewards for working and practicing hard.”

Working hard and experiencing the fruits of his labor is something this determined 17-year-old knows something about. The 140-pounder is captain of the Tigers wrestling squad and a two-time state qualifier. When not pinning his opponents, or studying, he keeps busy as a tuba player in the school’s marching band and vocalist in the talented Madrigal Singers.

Despite all his current high school success, Johnson looks forward to building a career in the military. He has also applied for admission to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. But this goal-oriented perspective cadet has his sights firmly set on Colorado Springs and earning a degree in aerodynamics.

“I want to design new jets,” he said.

Bradley also wants to fly them, especially the F-22 Raptor, a high-performance fighter aircraft.

“My father got me interested in planes when I was a boy,” he said. “He took me on tours inside different types of planes. I loved to study a plane’s mechanics and learn why it is able to fly. I knew by age 9 that I wanted to become a pilot.”

Johnson plans to earn his pilot’s license while attending the academy.

The U.S. role in Iraq has not dampened his enthusiasm for a military life. He is eager to receive his training and head overseas. Although the Army and Marines have handled the brunt of the fighting, this future airman is willing to do whatever it takes to help the other branches of the service.

“If called, I will serve,” he proclaimed.

Johnson has done plenty of service for the community while earning the rank of Life in the Boy Scouts. He will become an Eagle Scout in January.

This driven student is quick to show appreciation for those family and friends who helped him reach the pinnacle of success in his young life.

“Without their support and love my life would not be fun,” he said. “They believed in me and taught me to always do my best.”

— Trent Carruthers can be reached at 782- 5121, ext. 210 or tcarruthers@record-courier.com.