NHS student among interviewees for military academies

Alice Mannette
The Kansan
Clayton Kaufman of Newton speaks with U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran on Oct. 30 at the Cosmosphere.

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Clayton Kaufman is a senior wrestler at Newton High School would like to attend a military academy. Jason Pomeroy is a farmer in Hesston who is a Bronze Star of Valor recipient and a U.S. military academy graduate.

They met on Saturday when students from across Kansas interviewed with a board for recommendation to military academies created by Sen. Jerry Moran. Kaufman is seeking one of the appointments, Pomeroy a member of the board making recommendations to Moran.

Each year the board meets in Hutchinson. Recent Newton appointees include Grant Treaster to the Navy Academy along with Wyatt Hendrickson and Cade Remsburg to the Air Force Academy. All three have pursued athletic careers as well.

This year about  60  Kansas young people — high school seniors and recent high school graduates — interviewed for an endorsement from Sen. Moran's military board members on Oct. 30, 2021 in the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.

Who are the students?

The students and recent high school graduates come from across Kansas. Many have wanted to join the military since birth, some are living overseas with their military families and others simply want to serve their country. Each student must have good grades and test scores. They also must exemplify strong character and be able to pass a physical exam. 

Like many of the competitors on Saturday, the Air Force is Christopher Burroughs and Kyson Evans' first choice. Burroughs, who attends Hayden High School in Topeka, wants to become a pilot.

"I want to serve my country," Burroughs said. "Basically, all the men on my dad's side have been in the military."

As for Kyson Evans, who attends Seaman High School in Topeka, he wants to not only attend the U.S. Air Force Academy but play soccer for the school. This centerback has several cousins, as well as great-grandparents who are in the military.

Why Sen. Jerry Moran is passionate about this day

Along with serving on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Health, the Education Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation and Space and Science, Sen. Moran's father served the U.S. during World War II.

Each year, Moran puts together a group of professionals to pick who he should nominate for the military academies. He nominates both a first choice and alternate for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy. As for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, he can nominate 10. 

"We put together a committee of Kansans, a few educators, a few people who went to the academies, a few parents of students at the Academy now, folks involved in the military to help me interview so that we make certain that the merits are paid attention to and that the students that are best prepared and most capable are the ones that I nominate," Moran said.

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bob Brock of Topeka, views his job on the board as an honor. 

"This is our (board members) favorite day of the year because we get to meet some of the best and brightest kids," Brock said. "We're routinely inspired to a higher level of performance ourselves by meeting these kids."

Brock, who served in the U.S. Air Force, works as director of aviation at the Kansas Department of Transportation, said Sen. Moran takes a personal interest to make sure candidates from across the state apply.

"It's unusual for a state senator to take this personal interest," he said. "Sen. Moran's leadership is inspirational."

Some of the other 21 board members include Jacob Wood, the city manager of Salina who is a major in the U.S. Army Reserves; Jason Pomeroy, a farmer in Hesston who is a Bronze Star of Valor recipient and a U.S. military academy graduate; Martin Miller, the manager of the Great Bend Airport and a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, and Marri Krupco of Blue Mound, the commander of the Kansas American Legion.

"There's lots of things we could be concerned about sometimes discouraged about in this country," Moran said, "but these young men and women remind me that there is a bright future that America's United States of America has a bright future because of young men and women who certainly are disciplined and committed, but care about the country and are willing to serve." 

— Chad Frey, Newton Kansan, contributed to this article