Sullivan South senior accepted by Air Force Academy, West Point

Rick Wagner • Apr 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan South High School senior Dalton Miller is headed to the Air Force Academy this summer, making him the third student in the seven years of the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program history to get an appointment to a U.S. military academy.

Miller — with his family, friends, JROTC instructors and others looking on in the South library Wednesday afternoon — signed a form committing to four years at the academy worth an estimated $330,000 to $400,000.

He is to graduate in 2013 and, in exchange for his military education, have at least five years of active-duty service followed by at least three years of reserve service.

Miller, 17, said he doesn’t know if he’ll make a career of the Air Force and for now is focused on the more immediate future, which includes graduation from South next month and leaving for basic training June 25.

Miller said he decided his junior year he wanted to apply to the Air Force Academy but also applied and was accepted to West Point, the Army’s academy. Including Miller, the school has had two Air Force appointments and one West Point appointment.

Miller said the decision between the two was close. But Miller said he may have been swayed a bit because his grandfather, Al Miller, served in the Air Force. His grandfather and grandmother, Elaine, were among more than 50 people attending the ceremony, which also included his parents, Marty and Teri Miller, and brother, 12-year-old Grant Miller.

Dalton Miller said he has had a long interest in the military and patriotism. He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 48, where Charles Hasbrouck is Scoutmaster, and has earned the Eagle Scout designation.

Miller is on the wrestling team at South and said he may try out for the Air Force Academy wrestling team or another sport there. He plans to seek a degree in mechanical engineering with a possible focus on weapons design.

“This doesn’t happen every day or every year,” said Lt. Col. Bill Powley, who along with Master Sgt. Don Shawver are the JROTC instructors at the school.

“I guess you could say it takes a family to raise somebody, and you all did it,” Powley said. “He was smart and picked good parents.”

During the ceremony, Miller, his father and Powley thanked Principal Greg Harvey and the school administration and others for help filling out the reams of paperwork required for the application process.

Miller was assisted by U.S. Rep. Phil Rowe and former U.S. Rep. David Davis. Technically, Davis nominated Miller for the Air Force appointment and Roe for the Army appointment, but staffs of both congressmen were essential to the process, Powley and Miller said. John Abe Teague of Roe’s office attended the ceremony.

“I’m not the most organized person. I don’t like the paperwork,” Miller said.

The application process leading to an appointment “is like getting a Ph.D.,” Powley said.

“This has been a dream of Dalton’s for several years, and I hope all your dreams come true,” Teri Miller told the crowd.

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