Recruiters for the United State’s top military academies met with young military hopefuls from around Western Montana Saturday, as part of the “Academy Day” hosted at the Missoula Armed Forces Reserve Center.
“Today we're just learning about the different military academies...My main goal is I want to become a pilot for one of the branches,” said Tristen Lang, visiting with friends from the Flathead branch of the Civil Air Patrol.
“I'm really looking into the Coast Guard and Air Force right now but they're talking me into some of the other ones too,” said Lang.
Across the room, a Darby couple reconvened with their daughter, as she took a break from making the rounds at the different booths.
“Our daughter wants to pursue a career in the Air Force Academy...[Academy Day] gets her out, it gets her name out...The more coverage we can get her the better,” said Patty Nickel.
“I want to become a fighter pilot some day...I've always wanted to do it since I was little,” said Mardiese Nickel.
Congressman Steve Daines hosted the event, as an ambassador of sorts to academy officials making their pitches. Recruiters included officials from places like West Point Academy in West Point, New York, and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“These are the men and women that we want to see serving in the US military and leading our country in the future,” said Daines.
Montana is second only to Alaska in terms of Veterans per Capita, with veterans making up roughly 13 percent of Montana’s population, according to census data compiled by the Washington Post.
“These young people go on and become some of the great leaders in our military, so it's really encouraging and uplifting to be with them this morning, to see their excitement, their enthusiasm about the application process,” said Daines.