Local enlisted Airman reaches for stars, just might catch them at AF Academy

  • Published
  • By TSgt Stephen C. Bailey
  • 301FW Public Affairs
Senior Airman Chase Lehocky's dream since childhood has been to one day command a NASA space shuttle as one of its top astronauts. His recent selection to the Air Force Academy may just be his first-class ticket in making that dream a reality.
The 301st Medical Squadron pharmacy technician has had little time to celebrate since being accepted to the Academy.
"The whole process has been a whirlwind with me having to leave so quickly for the Air Force Academy preparatory school. But it has also been extremely exciting," said Airman Lehocky.
Grateful to those who have helped him, Airman Lehocky was quick to recognize his family's support and encouragement as well as his co-workers and friends who have supported him each step of the way in this process.
"I would not have had the opportunities thus far in the military if it were not for them."
The preparatory school, the first phase of his studies, started in July and will last approximately 10 months. He will then continue with the Academy following a short six-week break. According to officials, he will maintain his current pay grade along with a moderate pay increase during prep school.
Airman Lehocky graduated high school just two years ago. He finished ahead of the curve by taking mostly college-level classes. Now he embarks into a world that can provide tremendous opportunities as well as challenges.
"Math and science are my favorite subjects so, I think I will be fine academically. And I believe my Air Force Reserve experience will help as well," Lehocky said. "For me, this is the chance of a lifetime which I'm going to take full advantage and give 100 percent toward."
Some concern, however, comes from his mother, Maj. Lisa Lehocky, who also serves in the 301st Medical Squadron here.
"I am very proud of my son, but also scared for him. The Air Force Academy is a tough college, but the AFA preparatory school will provide him a good foundation prior to the Academy. Mostly, though, I am sad for me because Chase is my buddy and I will miss him terribly. We are close and we enjoy our time together. Overall, I think Chase will make a fine officer because he's well rounded, focused and likes order. I want Chase to get everything he can out of the military while giving back his best."
Serving in the military is a part of his family heritage stretching through many generations to include his great grandfather who died in the attack at Pearl Harbor.
"I'm very proud of my family and everyone who served. We were brought up expected to serve in the military. My older sister is at Langley AFB, Va. My brother is still in high school but will also probably serve."
Acceptance to the Academy does prove difficult in one aspect he said jokingly.
"When I graduate my sister and my dad, a retired master sergeant, will need to salute me, maybe my mom one day too."
His dad, taking the salute comment in stride, said he is quite happy with Chase's accomplishment and that he knew his son could do it.
"He is a truly good kid, and I know he'll do great as an officer and accomplish his dreams. We've taught him the Air Force is a great way of life - you get back exactly what you put in," said Ken Lehocky.
Recently, Air Force Academy officials held a picnic for those in the area who were selected.
"We had a great time that day but I was surprised that of all the people there I was the only one with prior military experience. I was also surprised that I knew several of them from high school and from around the area who had received athletic scholarships to the Academy. It will be great to continue to build upon those friendships," Chase said.
"He is going to make a difference wherever he goes - he is a bright kid that is combining a good education with military service - we are all very proud of the things he has done and will do," Major Lehocky said.
For Chase, the sky, and the universe, is the limit.
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