Dedicated to Service
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
May 7, 2021
Each year congressional offices across the country interview potential candidates for our nation’s military and service academies.
It’s one of the best parts of my job. South Dakota is home to some of the best and brightest students, many of them hoping they’ll go on to serve our country at one of our nation’s esteemed military institutions.
By the age of eighteen, many of these students have dedicated more time serving their communities than most adults. Mitchell Walker who will be attending West Point started his own business in middle school, moving lawns and taking care of neighborhood pets, all while running varsity track, playing varsity football, and serving in JROTC. Grace Blote who will be attending the Naval Academy volunteers at a local medical clinic, Health Concepts, in Rapid City.
The process to apply and be accepted to any one of the five academies is rigorous – four of the five academies require a congressional nomination – just to apply. When my office asked Garrett Gallaher why he wanted to attend a service academy, he said, “my decision to attend the Air Force Academy stems from my goal of becoming a pilot in the Air Force, a strong first step toward my goal of becoming a NASA astronaut after my military career. The U.S. Air Force Academy will present challenges that I have not encountered before, but I look forward to the camaraderie I will form with my fellow cadets in tackling these challenges together.”
These students are exceptional and their willingness to dedicate their lives to defending America’s freedom is honorable. If you see Mitchell Walker, Adelaide Crow, Robert O’Brien, Grace Blote, Camden Johnson, Lauren Letner, Caden Tegethoff, or Garrett Gallaher around town, be sure to commend them on their appointment.
Rapid City native Lauren Letner said it best: “I have always wanted a job that makes a difference in people’s lives, to do meaningful work.” I’m confident students like Lauren will continue to make a difference in the lives of many. These students will all represent our state well at their respective institutions – and as they prepare for their new journey outside of South Dakota – we’ll be waiting to welcome them back home!