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FHS duo head off to the 'Wild Blue Yonder'
Hackett, Raines receive appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy

Farragut graduating seniors Shawn Hackett and Justin Raines have their heads in the clouds.

Both young men have received appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado for the upcoming academic year.

“That is unheard of,” said Col. Rick Kuhlman, U.S. Air Force Academy liaison officer for FHS, “for two people from the same high school to get appointments to the Air Force Academy in the same year is unbelievable.”

Hackett, who moved to FHS from Karns High School, said that the appointment to the USAFA was a fulfillment of a life goal.

“That’s what I want to do with my life,” he said, “I want to go career, twenty years and ride it out.”

He added that he didn’t mind being considered by a few a military geek.

“I wear it with pride,” he said.

Hackett added that he intends to compete for a chance of earning his flight wings by getting one of the pilot slots, while getting a degree in one of the “fuzzy majors,” which is less science based.

Raines, a state rifle champion, also plans to seek one of the pilot slots, while majoring in some form of engineering discipline.

“I’m not one hundred percent certain of a major,” he said, “but it will probably be something in the engineering field.”

Both men also indicated a desire to seek one of the parachuting slots.

Kuhlman said that the two are “both very interested in becoming pilots,” but if for some reason they choose not to pursue that path later on, there are about 159 Air Force jobs out there waiting to be filled.

Kuhlman added that each year the USAFA receives about 8,000 applications, of which 1,200 are selected.

He said, “The Air Force looks for the whole person concept. It looks for their social, their physical, their spiritual, their mental, and all their attributes. (The Air Force) looks at how that will fit in to becoming an Air Force officer and (Shawn and Justin) ranked high in every single aspect.”

Kuhlman said that Justin is “what we call a ‘blue chip’ candidate, in that he was recruited to be on the U.S. Air Force Academy Rifle Team, which he will begin training with this summer and be on the team for the next four years.

“Shawn was recruited for his outstanding academic achievement. … It shows the kind of quality people that Shawn and Justin are to be selected.”

Leaving home will not be a big issue for the pair as both have traveled the world quite extensively.

“We actually met while we were on a trip to England four years ago,” Raines said.

“I will miss home to a degree,” he added, “but that’s part of life, you grow up, move out and start a career.”

Kuhlman said the two will become part of the 4,000-cadet enrollment at the USAFA and was certain that they would each do well.

“They are destined for success,” he said.


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