Military schools tap 2 Klein Collins AFJROTC seniors
In a year when the Klein Collins AFJROTC squad earned a number of accolades, two seniors on the squad have enlisted to advance their careers with the military.
Richard Browning has enrolled as the first AFJROTC cadet accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy Prep School in Annapolis, Md., and Michael Chiu was the first AFJROTC accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.
At the U.S. Air Force Academy National Invitational Drill Meet in Colorado Springs recently, the Klein Collins unarmed team earned the National Champions and Sweepstakes trophy, and the armed team placed first runner-up overall.
"Both of these students exemplify what we hope to accomplish here at Klein Collins," said Col. Daniel Crum, instructor of the Klein Collins AFJROTC program. "These boys have distinct purpose and direction for themselves, and that can be attributed to those who surround them who are constantly encouraging and supporting them. Our job is to give them the information to make good decisions, and in the end, what is
truly gratifying is that they have met their goals."
Browning's father, a former lieutenant colonel and pilot in the U.S. Air Force, first took him to the Naval Academy when he was 13. He returned in May 2011 after his acceptance into a week-long summer seminar, which fueled his desire to join the Navy.
"In the beginning, I didn't really put forth as much effort and belief in myself that I could be smart and disciplined enough to even be considered for this prestigious program," said Browning. "With the help of my mom and instructors like Colonel Crum and Sgt. Watson, I removed that doubt and knuckled down to fulfill my goal of becoming a naval officer."
His initial interest was sparked by the movie "Top Gun," though the book "Lone Survivor," introduced to him by English teacher Michael Troutman, is what redirected his focus to joining the elite Navy SEAL team. One of the top five cadets in the AFJROTC program, Browning worked his way up the ranks to lieutenant colonel. He is also active in the aviation club and has served more than 200 hours of community service on his way to earning the Community Service with Excellence Award.
"Our AFJROTC group is phenomenal," said Klein Collins principal Randy Kirk in the release. "The success of these students at competitions and the amount of time they give to their community through volunteer hours and projects is outstanding."
Chiu grew up wanting to join the armed forced despite having no family military background. He has been involved with AFJROTC all four years of high school and is ranked 15th in his senior class. Even through many hours of community service, he has maintained a steady focus on reaching his goal of getting into West Point.
"Michael is a very persistent, determined and serving young man," said his father Donald Chiu, associate director of information technology in KISD. "His God-given talents, perspective and goals all reflect who he is and why. The joy and peace knowing that Michael, like the rest of his family, lives to serve and follow God, is a great blessing as a father."
Chiu attributes much of his success to his experiences and friendships through the AFJROTC program, along with family and mentor support.
"My dad has taught me everything I know, and my mom and sisters have always been there to love and support me in everything I do," said Chiu. "Colonel Crum and Sgt. Watson have also taught me a lot about what it takes to be a leader, and not just in the program, but in life in general."
His intended major is mechanical engineering, but his ultimate career goal is to become a member of the Army's elite Special Forces unit known as the Green Berets. He also hopes to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"I am focused, but I've learned a lot over the years. There are times when you will face challenges and make mistakes, but I've always been taught it's what you make of those opportunities. You've got to roll with the punches, per se, accept praise when it's given, and take criticism when it's before you, and try to be your best always," said Chiu.
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