Off they go: SHS seniors bound for Air Force Academy

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor

All graduating seniors hope to “spread their wings,” but two Southside High School graduates are looking to earn their wings at the United States Air Force Academy.

Alyssa Garmon and Haden Ryals have both been accepted at the academy, via different paths.

Ryals, winner of the Class 5A state wrestling title in the 152-pound weight division, was competing at a national tournament and met the coach of the academy’s wrestling team. Ryals was recruited by the academy to come to Colorado and wrestle on the academy team.

“I hadn’t really thought about it,” Ryals said, of the prospects of any military career. Getting school paid for is a real plus, he said, and he will serve in the air force after he completes his education.

As to career options, Ryals said he hasn’t decided what he wants to do.

“I’ve been interested (in the air force) since the 8th grade,” Garmon said.

In addition to dedication to her studies and to Southside’s marching band, Garmon is close to getting her pilot’s license.

“I’ve passed the written test,” Garmon said, and completed other requirements. She said she has to get more hours in the cockpit to get her license, and she hopes to do so before she goes to the academy near the end of June.

After completing all the forms, sending all her school records and test scores and a recommendation from U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt to the academy, Garmon hit a bump in the road.

“They look at medical records for your whole life,” Garmon said. “I got medically disqualified because I had a deviated septum.”

She chose to have surgery to repair it, rather than letting it ground her plans.

Garmon, who is the 2014 salutatorian at Southside High School, said she wants a military career.

“I want to serve at least 20 years,” Garmon said. “I want to be a fighter pilot.”

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