General John J. Pershing...Admiral Donald Davis...Micah Blakely? Yes, these three men may not seem linked at first glance. But taking a moment to look at their resumes, all three have something in common. All three reside (or have resided) in Linn County, and all three attended (or will be attending) a top-tier military academy. In his case, Blakely will be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“I have always tried to be the best,” said Micah. “If you can do the best, then why not. I applied to ROTC wanting to go into the military as an officer. Getting accepted to the Academy will really prepare me for the military. It’s going to be really hard, but it will prepare me for career.”
Getting into the Air Force Academy, or any elite military college, is not a quick or easy affair. Blakely had to provide letters of recommendation from prominent citizens, teachers, and had to obtain an appointment from a Congressmen.
“I went through several steps as a pre-candidate,” said Micah. There are over 60,000 people who start this process according to Internet research. Only 12,000 of these applicants are physically, academically and medically able to be listed as highly qualified.”
Micah continued: “From there had I had a military physical. I was assigned an Admissions Liaison Officer who was a retired Colonel and an Academy graduate from Kirksville. He was a lawyer and teaches law at Truman. We did a series of interviews, he even came and watched me wrestle as a junior. He then wrote an evaluation about me.
But nothing would stop Micah from obtaining what his father David recalls as being his son’s lifelong dream.
“I can remember that he had always wanted to fly, since he was little,” said David. “He wants to be a pilot. He was talking about the Academy at times where most kids wouldn’t even think about that. As an eighth grader he had us contact the Academy to find out what we should be doing to get him ready for possible admission.”
His mother Cindy is also proud of her son. “I’m really proud of Micah,” she said. “He has more self discipline and more academic ability than nearly any teenager I know. I am just really proud of him for pushing himself to choose the hard road. I know he has what it takes to be successful.”
The family, still needing that Congressional appointment, contacted the offices of Claire McCaskill, Roy Blunt and Sam Graves. Interest in making the appointment was shown by Graves’ office.
Page 2 of 2 - “We sent letters sent to each of our Congressmen,” said David. “ They each wanted three to five essays about why he wanted to attend the academy, what he wanted to do with a career in the military.”
In November, Congressman Graves had a panel of academy graduates and other military personnel conducting interviews. The entire panel was all in dress uniforms with all branches represented. They were interviewing for all academies throughout the day.
“I knew some of the questions they were going to ask, but it was still intimidating,” said Micah. “We had been working on Congressman Graves, but one of his staffers told us who we really needed to visit with. I then started working with Randy Reed of Kansas City, and we met with him. He turned out to be the chair of this panel. He talked with me for over an hour, preparing me for the interview. “
For Micah, the interview process was the hardest, and most nerve-wracking part of the process. But, thanks to his preparation, the interview went well. It would be a surprise call to his cell phone on the way to the Kirksville Wrestling Tournament that would tell him how he had done.
“Sam Graves called personally to let me know that I had the nomination,” said Micah. “I was excited, it was unexpected to get that call while on the bus. my parents knew ahead of time. My teammates were excited for me.”